Sans Soleil

1983

Sans Soleil

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 12

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,948
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Movie Info

In this offering, French documentary filmmaker Chris Marker takes his cameras to Japan, demonstrating how industrialization and depersonalization often go hand in hand. He contrasts these scenes with the unspoiled vistas of Africa -- then contrasts these scenes with piquant glimpses of modernized Europe, Scandinavia, and California.

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Critic Reviews for Sans Soleil

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

Audience Reviews for Sans Soleil

  • Jan 09, 2014
    Well shot and with meandering dialogue (that occasionally makes fascinating observations), the film doesn't hold together for me. I don't know what it's about -- I know it's about memory, but it meanders once every two or three minutes from one topic to another. By the end, I had a headache and was checking my watch frequently; boredom was creeping in -- in spite of the great photography. The dialogue continued. Finally at the end I was relieved when the credits rolled. I have no animosity towards this film -- at times it is interesting, and it is artistically shot -- I can tell it's about something, it's not about just nothing like many films -- but by the end I just kept asking, "Why should I care?" I fully admit I don't understand this film. I think maybe only a certain kind of person can love this film; maybe someone with the same mind as Chris Marker. For me though, it was like boarding a train, looking at beautiful sights out your window, but listening to a narrator describe random objects for an hour and a half as the train goes nowhere. Impenetrable, slowly more exasperating, and eventually somewhat sleep-inducing. I don't rule out watching it again -- it seems like a movie you can gain a new perspective on each time you watch it. But for now, it leaves no sizable imprint on my memory, my thoughts, or my feeling. On my first viewing, I didn't completely enjoy watching it for its full duration. To be honest, it reminded me of a long meditation retreat I went on, and in the last hour or so of the retreat I really was pushing myself to finish the meditation. Like that, during the last half of this movie I really had to push myself to finish it and it was a challenge to not just give up -- it was definitely testing my patience, which is typically pretty vast (this is coming from someone whose favorite science fiction movie is "2001"). If nothing else, it's a beauty to look at, despite some violent images I couldn't bear to look at (or regretted seeing).
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2012
    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
  • Mar 09, 2012
    "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 B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 06, 2011
    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.
    Chris B Super Reviewer

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