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Sans soleil (Sunless)

Sans soleil (Sunless) (1983)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 3,770

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Movie Info

Titled after a song cycle by Mussorgsky, Sans Soleil is a 1982 nonlinear essay film by elusive documentary filmmaker Chris Marker. It's a collage of images gathered from Japan, Africa, Iceland, San Francisco, and France -- all presented without direct sound. The soundtrack consists of occasional spells of electronic music while an unseen woman's voice (Alexandra Stewart) narrates letters written by a possibly fictional traveler in poetic verse. Beginning with the phrase "He wrote me," each

Jun 16, 1993

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (1) | DVD (10)

Unforgettable movie.

November 21, 2003 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The amazing Sans Soleil more or less documents a trip to Tokyo, focusing on small moments and rituals as well as agreements between subject and camera.

March 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It challenges you to look at images with multiple contexts and ponder differing perspectives, which is really what film is all about in the end.

February 23, 2012 Full Review Source:

Sans soleil is more intuitive than rational, and that makes it a singular, overpowering experience.

September 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

There's little chance such a bizarre thinking man's film will have a wide appeal, but for those it reaches this is a one of a kind masterpiece.

June 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Sans Soleil makes up a tapestry of memories that questions the entire nature of memory, while celebrating that of cinema.

November 21, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

For masochists only.

October 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Threat | Comments (2)
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for Sans soleil (Sunless)

Difficult-to-describe, stream-of-consciousness essay travelogue; essentially, it's an arthouse mondo movie. Remarkable images include the disturbing slaughter of a giraffe and a Japanese temple devoted to ceramic cats; it seems random, but every shot is accompanied by a keen observation on culture and humanity. Dreamlike, floating, and poetic, it's a must-see for the intelligent and adventurous viewer.
April 15, 2012
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Incredibly bizarre way to present a documentary, but it's very effective. It's almost as if the film itself had ADHD and was constantly switching topics and moving around in order to stay entertained. There are some great shots of Japan and I actually feel like I learned a tremendous amount about the culture.
March 2, 2010

Super Reviewer

"Sans Soleil" deserves academic respect, but this is among the most exasperatingly tedious films I've ever sat through. At least it's unusual -- the most apt comparison may be "Koyaaniqatsi," as director Chris Marker's camera roams through Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, Paris and San Francisco capturing documentary glimpses of local culture. Ceremonial rites of Tokyo are especially prominent. As with "Koyaaniqatsi," the film is artfully detached and stresses editing rhythm as much as thematic content. No problem so far, but then comes the narration. You'll never see a movie where you wish so much that the narrator would simply shut her yap. The text takes the stilted form of a monotone female quoting letters from a fictionalized cameraman, so the ideas are constantly prefaced with "He wrote that..." and "He wrote me that...." This tic grows old fast. And all the heady philosophizing (memory over time is the dominant motif) is so maddeningly dense and persistent that the accompanying images never get a chance to breathe. What an exhausting film. And unlike "Koyaaniqatsi," it doesn't even have a strong score. Little beyond bubbling synthesizer effects.

A caution to sensitive parties: Some borrowed footage of a giraffe being gunned down is extremely disturbing.
March 10, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

This is Chris Marker's free form travelogue that was released in 1983 (RT is wrong about it being released in 2002) and is a meditation of life on earth and societies impact on man. While this is a film that most modern audiences would be lost with and probably bored by, "Sans Soleil" is an artistic documentary that is a multiple layered conceptual look into society and mankind as a whole. The film uses a combination of film elements including archival footage, nature footage, animal kingdom footage and mostly of man living in their own world. This is a thinking man's documentary and is both serious and humorous as it explored such topics as sexuality, capitalism, and our basic human desires. The film is narrated by Florence Delay and her calming voice overlaps most shots in the film and along with the meditative score, really add a sense of calm to the overall feel of the movie. All of this adds up to a deeply personal yet equally immersive experience for the viewer. Be warned that there are scenes of both graphic nudity, sexual content, and other mature topics throughout the film.
March 2, 2012
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Sans soleil (DE)
  • Sans Soleil (UK)
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