Le Joli Mai

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Chris Marker fans will be satisfied with this thoughtful film essay, which depicts the ‘first peaceful Spring’ in Paris since the close of the Second World War and ensuing war in Algeria.  Shot simultaneously with the filming of the legendary La Jetée, this prize-winning film has only recently been restored by Marker’s cinematographer and co-director Pierre Lhomme.

Ever the voyeur, Marker spent the spring of 1962 talking to everyday Parisians about, well, how they were doing. He spoke to war heroes and youths, mothers of eight and lifelong workers’ rights campaigners, Algerians and mainland French. At a noticeable two and a half hours, this essay on post post war Paris, with its superb timelapses and establishing shots, peoplescapes and, of course Marker’s endless faces, makes this film well worth watching, though it might try the patience of the uninitiated. 

Marker’s minimal interviewing style brings out all sorts of responses in his interviewees, but at each of their hearts is a lack of contentment, a bewilderment towards the world in which they live. This film depicts a moment in time from the people themselves who lived it, creating a remarkable time capsule, but also touching on the more universal anxieties that rest in society.