Le Fond de l'air est rouge (A Grin Without a Cat) (The Base of the Air Is Red) Reviews

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½ December 10, 2007
One of Marker's most ambitious films. At the end of his 'militant phase' Marker wanted to make a film made entirely from found footage, and this results in an extremely dense work exploring the rise and fall the new leftist movement throughout the world during the late 60's to 70's. While a lot of the footage is of the talking heads variety, they are edited in an associative collage form that doesn't cohere to a set message or idea but instead form a sort of dialogue that examines the events shown in relation to similar events during that period of time. I found this much harder to get into than Marker's other films because there is so much history and politics that I'm not familiar with. While there are some of Marker's humor and wry commentary, the long passages of talking heads does make a lot of the film quite dry. This was his last feature before Sans Soleil, and the use of color tinting hints to digital image manipulations in 'The Zone'.
½ January 15, 2004
(Theatre) (First Viewing, 1st Marker film)

A difficult but ultimately rewarding film experience. Communism is not something taught in much detail in the American school systems, so for the first half of the film I felt like I was desperately treading water, trying to keep my head above the waves (and quickly losing the battle) as I tried to understand the importance of Communism on world events during the 1960's as it was presented to me in rapid-fire pace. It was rough going for the first hour or so.

But suddenly I began to realize that while I wasn't fully comprehending the details of the situations presented to me, the power of the images conveyed the message that (I think) Marker was trying to get across- the power of the masses when they unify.

A four hour version of [b]A Grin Without a Cat[/b] was made in 1977, in 2002 Marker re-edited the film, cutting out over an hour of its running time, which he felt made the film too confusing.

A fascinating film, especially now upon reflection. Its artistry and power makes a contemporary documentary like [b]Bowling for Columbine[/b] seem like child's play- juvenille, obvious and artless (not that I liked the film much anyway, but that's beside the point). I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of Marker's work in the coming weeks- just from one film (and not even one of his signature ones), it is obvious Marker possesses a unique perspective and voice in cinema
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