Sans Soleil - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sans Soleil Reviews

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June 3, 2017
Philosophical documentary the way only the French know how to do well, dated and specious in places, but visually pleasing.
February 20, 2017
A classic example of the montage technique, which varies in its effect between mesmerising, irritating and soporific. The voiceover is pretty unhelpful and dated, tending towards the pretentious and patronising. However at its best it is an interesting discourse of the differences (or not) between cultures, the differences (or not) between time and place.
½ July 23, 2016
Some interesting shots strung together with a pretentious, artsy narration that mimics profundity in a familiar jejeune style. Assumptions include that the east is superior to the west, television is bad, capitalism evil, etc. Sample insight: "Pac-man puts into true perspective the balance of power between the individual and the environment." With a different narration it could be a much better film. One key to its superficiality: the people are only seen, never heard. The narrator's voice covers all, like ketchup. Marker has a good eye, a good feel for faces and gestures, but a mushy brain. If you're a young aspiring artist in an MFA program who's attracted to "theory" the humorless self-importance of this film may appeal to you.
January 10, 2016
One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen (sudden craving to see it again).
November 22, 2015
Sans Soleil is magical, both in content and in execution, a snapshot of the world that sums up the human experience and contextualizes it within the unknowability that comes with strict rules of perception. Marker avoids mere exoticism by questioning the nature of this perception, a subject that not only accommodates his foreignness but makes it entirely appropriate, adding a layer to the obscurity (obscurity which itself offers further truth through its universality). He looks at time and how it shapes humanity, voyeurism and how it plays a role in both the ways different cultures perceive each other and how it unites them, the idea of universal connection through an overarching narrative of shared feelings and gestures, modernity and how it provides new outlets for facets of human nature, and, most importantly, how memory's profound emotional resonance can lead to insight into both the identity of the one doing the remembering and the world they inhabit by way of their unique reconstruction of it through recalled images.

Sans Soleil is both singular to its director and universal through the way audiences will draw their own interpretation of it, a landmark film that gets at ideas that regularly make for transcendental nonsense in a way that is both overwhelmingly powerful and quietly probing, never masking itself in pretense or social niceties. This honesty is what makes its content so accessible, the result a masterpiece that is both intellectually minded and appealing to our humanity on the basest of levels.
½ August 28, 2015
A fascinating stream-of-consciousness, philosophical and possibly fictional travelogue. The film is ostensibly about the cultural differences between Japan and the west, but Africa and Iceland are involved in key ways. It's largely a flow of images with an unnamed woman narrator telling the viewer what another individual told her about places he traveled ... and sometimes observations about a film he wanted to make, which appears to be this film. It's mesmerizing.
½ August 16, 2015
Sans Soleil accomplishes the purpose of film in general: to dare the viewer to observe and contemplate its sights and sounds from varied angles and perspectives.
½ May 10, 2015
An avant-garde postcard cinematically spoken in a simply sublime style.
April 5, 2015
Apart from a meditation on time, culture vs globalization, memory and death I found that Marker's film reminded me of how I can explore interesting things and events on a day on my own where I can stop anywhere and investigate. Marker was a resistance fighter and great adventurer so his stops are in Africa, Japan, Iceland and Paris but the sense of interest in events seems to be the same.
December 20, 2014
Excelente! de lo mejor que vi en mucho tiempo.
October 20, 2014
Between a 7/10 and 8/10, 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 tapestry of experiene.
March 20, 2014
Did you love "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Last of England"? Do you want to see early-80's Japan and West Africa with boring narration? Then have I got the movie for you! This is what a substitute shows in an anthropology class. It's an informative look at history and culture, but unless you are intensely interested in the period or settings, it's pretty tedious.
Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 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).
November 20, 2013
A beautiful essay on the importance of context and details in remembering and how memories affects our personal and shared histories that shape the present. Hugely impressive.
August 3, 2013
Sans Soleil is the top of the crops when it comes to the reflective and deep essay documentary, and it is no wonder that it comes from the mind of the always ground breaking and meditative Chris Marker. This film is an overpowering and unique experience, and while the film's challenging nature inevitably restricts its audience appeal, anyone willing to let themselves be carried away by the images and the collection of thoughts will find it very thought provoking and certainly worthwhile.
June 20, 2013
Great film! I've seen it many times. If you relate it to Twelve Monkeys (the original French film by the same director), there are so many similarities. Sans Soleil even quotes Twelve Monkeys at one point, & it appears Chris Marker had a thing for time travel! I love the retrograde sound effects! Yes, it's challenging. Think of it like an adult - as opposed to preteen & adolescent - version of Linklater's Waking Life, but a brilliant travel film.
½ June 18, 2013
A stunningly honest and beautiful documentary that serves as a non-linear tale of a globe-trotting, soul searching filmmaker.
½ May 9, 2013
It is truly a beautiful film, a free flowing picture of life and memory.
April 18, 2013
Genuinely brilliant documentary. I also watched La Jetée recently, and I must say that Chris marker is one of the major discoveries for me. What a genius!
½ March 29, 2013
This is the type of film that would feel right at home as an installation piece in a gallery somewhere. And if it was, I'd watch a few minutes of it and move on. But I saw it in a theater. In for the long haul. Did I almost fall asleep? Yes. Did I fall asleep? No. It's a really interesting piece. Meandering and tangential for its entirety, but hypnotically entertaining. There's just something so personal about it. Early in the film, the narrator says something about traveling the world many times over and banality being the only thing that's still interesting, and that theme presents itself throughout the entire film. Lots of people just... being. Don't go into this expecting anything more than an exercise in being human, and you might just be surprised. Oh, and the interplay between the visuals and music is amazing. That was my favorite part. [3.5/5 STARS] [032813]
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