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Three films from Chris Marker on DVD in August

25 July 2011

Chris Marker, a cinematic essayist and audio-visual poet, was one of the most innovative filmmakers to emerge during the postwar era. Working primarily in the arena of nonfiction, Marker rejected conventional narrative techniques, instead staking out a deeply political terrain defined by the use of still images, atmospheric soundtracks, and literate commentary.

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve on July 29, 1921, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the intensely private and enigmatic Marker mounted a career as a writer and critic before creating his first short feature Olympia 52 in 1952. His first widely acclaimed effort was 1953's Les Statues Meurent Aussi, filmed with the assistance of frequent collaborator Alain Resnais.

Marker's most famed film was not a documentary, but a work of science fiction: the 1962 masterpiece La Jetée. A time-travel parable consisting almost completely of still images and voice-over narration, the 30-minute work later served as the inspiration behind Terry Gilliam's 1995 feature 12 Monkeys.

In 1982 Marker wrote and directed the superb Sans Soleil, a wry and complex global travelogue inspired by a series of letters which has been acclaimed as one of his best works.

During the 1980's Marker's work became more and more dominated by developing technology. Always the innovator, he worked increasingly on video, also experimenting with television, computers, and other multimedia outlets.

In 1997, he returned to feature filmmaking with Level Five. French computer programmer Laura tackles a challenging video game. She researches World War II's bloody battle of Okinawa, the last pre-nuclear face-off between US and Japan. Interviews with Japanese experts and witnesses, including filmmaker Nagisha Oshima, cause Laura to reflect deeply on her own life and human kind. Will she be able to surpass Level 5? A fascinating humanistic reflection on war, memory and history.

La Jetée / Sans Soleil and Level Five will receive separate DVD releases by Optimum Home Entertainment on 22nd August 2011 at the RRP of £15.99 each. No extra features are listed for either release.