Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
August 25
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
Blacula August 25, 1972
Blacula opens

In the early 1970s, the breakout success of films like Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Shaft led to the start of the blaxploitation boom, and one of the most novel and interesting movies from this opportunistic genre was Blacula, a contemporary African-American take on the vampire story starring William Marshall as “Dracula’s soul brother,” released on this day in 1972.

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August 25, 1988
The Thin Blue Line released

Errol Morris's The Thin Blue Line, voted best film of the year by the Washington Post as well as the Mystery Writers of America, was released on August 25, 1988.

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25 August 1958
Tim's Big Adventure

Born in the Hollywood’s back yard, Tim Burton worked his way up the ladder film by film. Now he’s returning to his roots.

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