Sans Soleil (1983)

Sans Soleil




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

French documentary filmmaker Chris Marker has never denied that his productions were made primarily to please himself. Lauded as "the one true essayist of the French cinema" by his admirers, Marker is written off as ponderous and tiresome by his detractors. With this in mind, we recommend Marker's Sans Soleil for those not automatically put off by an intensely personal cinematic viewpoint (too personal at times; even Marker admits this). The director takes his cameras to Japan, demonstrating how … More

Rating: R
Genre: Documentary, Drama, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Chris Marker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 16, 1993
Criterion Collection


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Critic Reviews for Sans Soleil

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4)

Unforgettable movie.

Full Review… | November 21, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 9, 2012
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.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012

Audience Reviews for Sans Soleil

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.

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.

Conner Rainwater

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.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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