The Wex has a special, long term relationship with French filmmaker Chris Marker, and the Wexner Center Store is, for a limited time, the exclusive outlet for the DVD release of A Grin Without a Cat, Marker's magnum opusâ€”a three-hour overview of the political turmoil around the world during the '60s and '70s. On the occasion of its release, director of media arts Bill Horrigan offers his thoughts.
One of the unexpected pleasures of Icarus's DVD of Chris Marker's Grin Without A Cat comes from reading the essay Marker produced for the disk's accompanying booklet. Writing in May, 2008, Marker looks back upon the political turmoil of the 1960s that GRIN is grounded in, averring that it's 1967 (rather than 1968) that ought to be regarded as seminal.
Bracingly blunt, Marker recalls the events of May 68: â€œIn May, anyway, the final whistle came quickly: with the first casualtyâ€¦. Left to their own devices amidst a reassured country, they became weakly and purposeless. Historical anarchy had died – heroically – in Spain. To refer to it now made no more sense than being a royalist, unless it became an ideological business, quite profitable at that. The Communist Party had missed every helping hand offered by History and started the long spin of a motorless airplane. French Maoism would remain a landmark in the history of teratology. The foolishness of morons is a plague, but statistically speaking we have to put up with it. What is fascinating is the foolishness of clever people and, in this particular case, some of the cleverest.â€
Reading this essay reminded me of how relatively little of Marker's writing is available in English, the most glaring gaps being the justly legendary volumes of Commentaires, the script of the original version of Le Fond De L'Air Est Rouge (Grin's French title), and the countless shorter articles he's been writing for over five decades now, no end in sight. Fragments of these materials appear within Marker's CD-ROM, Immemory (principally, the text from his book on Korea, Coreennes), but vastly more awaits translation.
Meanwhile, both mainstream and more obscurely-sourced books about Marker are in an upswing: from the last two years alone, Janet Harbord's La Jetee (in Afterall Books' â€œOne Workâ€ series), Arnaud Lambert's Also Known as Chris Marker (in French, despite the title), Sarah Cooper's Chris Marker, Andres Janser's Chris Marker: Abschied Vom Kino/A Farewell to Movies (in German and English), and, from Australia's Institute of Modern Art, Chris Marker: Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men. Most tantalizing is a slim volume produced by U.K.'s Otolith Group entitled Inner Time of Television, a project for 2007's First Biennial of Athens, restoring Marker's legendarily unseen 1989 television series on the legacy of Greek antiquity and philosophy, The Owl's Legacy, with Marker in the catalogue reflecting on the project from a twenty year distance. And these are just the books I happen to know about; I don't doubt there's more I don't know than what I doâ€¦. – Bill Horrigan
SPECIAL OFFER Save $19.90 when you buy the full set of all 5 Chris Marker/Icarus Films DVD releases. Includes the recently released A Grin Without A Cat, The Last Bolshevik, Case of the Grinning Cat, Remembrance of Things To Come, and Sixth Side Of The Pentagon/The Embassy. All for one price of $125.