Sans Soleil ([French] pronunciation: [sɑ̃ sɔ.lɛj], "Sunless") is a 1983 French film directed by Chris Marker. The title is from the song cycle Sunless by Modest Mussorgsky. Sans Soleil is a meditation on the nature of human memory, showing the inability to recall the context and nuances of memory and how, as a result, the perception of personal and global histories are affected.


Stretching the genre of documentary, this experimental essay-film is a composition of thoughts, images and scenes, mainly from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, "two extreme poles of survival". Some other scenes were filmed in IcelandParis, and San Francisco. A female narrator reads from letters supposedly sent to her by the (fictitious) cameraman Sandor Krasna.

Sans Soleil is often labeled as a documentary, travelogue, or essay-film. Despite the film's modest use of fictional content, it should not be confused as a mock-documentary; the fictitious content works as a device to assist meaning in the film which, along with its occasionally nondescript movement among locations and lack of character-based narrative, is derived from the juxtaposition of narrative and image.

Introductory quotationsEdit

The original French version of Sans Soleil opens with the following quotation by Jean Racine from his tragedy Bajazet (1672):</p>

"L'Éloignement des pays répare en quelque sorte la trop grande proximité des temps." (The distance between countries compensates somewhat for the excessive closeness of time.)

Marker replaced this quote with the following one by T. S. Eliot from Ash Wednesday (1930) for the English version of the film:

"Because I know that time is always time And place is always and only place And what is actual is actual only for one time And only for one place".
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