Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
September 02
Sans Soleil October 26, 1983
Sans Soleil opens

In 1982, when the French avant-garde director Chris Marker released his travelogue essay Sans Soleil, most critics were uncertain what to make of it. While Marker, a fellow traveler with the French New Wave, had made his mark twenty years earlier in 1962 with La Jetée, a half- hour science fiction poem that The New Yorker’s critic Pauline Kael called “The greatest science fiction movie I’ve ever seen.” But Sans Soleil, a meandering video diary involving different to trips to Africa, Japan and beyond, was hard for most to define. At the New York Times, Vincent Canby spat out, “In Sans Soleil, Mr. Marker pretends to be examining the quality of contemporary life, though what he actually is doing is examining his own, not always coherent or especially interesting reactions to our world.” In a more kind way, The Village Voice’s J. Hoberman termed it “philosophical journalism,” adding “Sans Soleil’s Tokyo is a comicbook futuropolis more startling than Blade Runner’s.” But over time, the film’s poetic and perplexing mix of video and voiceover, photography and philosophy, helped shape the emerging documentary form of the “essay film.” And even more, Marker’s jittery narrative, darting quickly from observation to digression, presaged what we have come to call new media. In his recent review for The Onion, Scott Tobias notes, “at a time when technology has given rise to ‘vlogging’ and other forms of personal expression, Marker's Sans Soleil stands as a model of the essay film.” And Nathan Lee at the Village Voice adds, “Engaging this multivalent polyphonic poetry is strikingly akin to surfing the Internet.”


More Flashbacks
Dick Tracy September 2, 1939
Dick Tracy's G-Men opens

In 1939, Republic Pictures launched Dick Tracy’s G-Men, a 15-episode cinematic serial featuring the hero from Chester Gould’s famous comic strip.

Read more »
Sep. 2, 1983
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence released

26 years ago today, Nagisa Ôshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence was released in the U.S., just a few months after it had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Read more »
Sept 2, 1929
Hal Ashby Born

<!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1107304683 0 0 159 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073741899 0 0 159 0;} @font-face {font-family:Tahoma; panose-1:2 11 6 4 3 5 4 4 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-520082689 -1073717157 41 0 66047 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -->

Growing up an outsider in a Mormon town, Hal Ashby turned his difference into a cinematic aesthetic.

Read more »