Patrick Higgins in Counterpunch:
From Cockburn to Vidal, some great thinkers and men have moved on over the past few weeks. Among those ranks is the French documentarian—nay, cine-essayist is more near correct—Chris Marker, whose “brilliance as a thinker and filmmaker has,” in the words of film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, “largely (and unfairly) eclipsed by Godard’s.”
Both men, Godard and Marker, are responsible for more than a few films of almost upsetting beauty. Both men also contributed greatly to the withering art of film criticism, their best moments as critics achieved through the camera rather than the typewriter. It is true that Godard has made films one could safely call revolutionary (despite the spirited abuse the Situationists leveled at him), just as it is true that Godard possesses a painter’s eye and the deepest of possible understandings of the text and the image, but Marker’s intensity as a narrator and dedication as a wonderer and intelligence as a traveler have not been matched by Godard or anybody else. It is time this artist of the highest caliber, for whose talents 91 years could never suffice, received his due.
On my backpack—the one perpetually hanging from my body—is a rusting button with the image of the Cheshire Cat, its sprawling grin teasing and frightening. The button has been there for years, and will remain there for many years more, because to be put in mind of Marker’s films is to be put in mind of so many other wonderful things. The image is from Marker’s The Case of the Grinning Cat, in which the image of the Cheshire Cat, found as graffiti on walls and in metros throughout Paris, serves as Marker’s springboard for ruminations on nearly everything. As it should be. What better to capture Marker’s syndicalist-ish spirit and sensibility than street art, anonymously created, continually evolving, and publically consumed?
Marker films help me more than most in understanding the clutter and serenity, the noise and peacefulness of the world we inhabit. He was expert at finding “moments.”