Marker’s best known film was the 1962 dystopian masterpiece La Jetée (The Jetty). It had the impact necessary to inspire many leading science fiction authors, including William Gibson and the late J.G. Ballard. The powerful, minimalist movie, comprised almost exclusively of numerous black-and-white stills and clocking in at about 28 minutes, was a direct inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 1995 thriller 12 Monkeys.
Marker’s film occurs in a post-apocalyptic Paris, shortly after the nuclear holocaust of World War III. Paris is ravaged: Streets are covered in radioactive rubble, buildings are crumbling and the Arc de Triomphe has been split into two. The population is dead or missing. The few survivors, hide in the labyrinthine like sewer underneath the streets of Paris. A survivor is picked to save the world by traveling in time to his memories of the pre-war past, and back to the future.
Marker was also prolific, making several impressive films over the course of his long lifetime, including Le Mystère Koumiko (1965), A Grin Without a Cat (1977) and Sans Soleil (1983). He created several films in homage to his favorite directors, including A.K. (a 1985 tribute to Akira Kurosawa) and One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich (1999), for Andrei Tarkovsky. He also experimented with CD-ROMs and digital multimedia installations later in his life, in works like Immemory (1998). He remained active into his 70s and 80s. His last film appears to have been a short about the history of cinema, commissioned as a trailer for the 50th anniversary of the Viennale Film Festival in October. The film is scheduled to be shown at the Locarno Film Festival on Saturday. News of his death was confirmed yesterday morning.He was 91.