Chris Marker, the legendary French filmmaker and photographer who made such films as "Le Jetee" and "Sans Soleil," died on Monday, just one day after his 91st birthday. The news, reported by the Associated Press, was confirmed by France's Culture Ministry.
While much of Chris Marker's work is still considered relatively obscure and the eccentric and famously private filmmaker kept away from the public eye, many of his movies are considered instrumental forerunners to modern genres we see today. His 1962 classic "La Jetee," for instance, went on to inspire the canonical science fiction work "12 Monkeys," directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Bruce Willis and a very young Brad Pitt. The AP's report, for instance, that the film "is often ranked among the best time-travel films ever made." Inspired in turn by Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," the film's dystopic iconography is also heavily drawn from in David Bowie's 1993 music video "Jump The Say."
The Guardian, meanwhile, credits Marker with inventing the "essay film," a style of documentary popularized by other filmmakers like Jean-Marie Straub, Danielle Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Errol Morris and Michael Moore. Despite his long legacy spanning from the early 1950's, the filmmaker was still actively working well into his 80's.
Coming from a fiercely polemical and intellectual political background, Marker experimented with film's narrative and evocative possibilities in more ways than one. While it is difficult to trace the genealogy of modern cat videos, for instance, his 1990 documentary short "Cat Listening To Music" (shown in part below) certainly helped solidify the form.
A noted cat-lover himself as well as something of a recluse, Chris Marker would rarely allow himself to be interviewed or photographed for the press, The Guardian notes in his obituary, offering pictures of whenever asked for a photograph.
Honoring Chris Marker's career, Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob called the late filmmaker an "indefatigable filmmaker."
You can watch "La Jetee" and "San Soleil" in their entirety below.