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If I had Four Dromedaries

Chris Marker
France, 1967
Production : SLON, APEC (Association pour la Promotion de l'Education Citoyenne)



“With his four dromedaries, Don Pedro d'Alfaroubeira roamed the world and admired it. He did what I would like to do if I had four dromedaries too.” An amateur photographer and two of his friends discuss pictures taken all over the world. This film is entirely made up of a rostrum sequence using still photos taken in twenty-six countries between 1955 and 1965.

Tënk's film review

Four years after “La Jetée”, Chris Marker embarks on another film based on photographs. Although this time it’s not a (science-)fiction but a documentary approach, the hypothesis remains the same: it’s through images that we travel, both in time and space. Mental images, images from memory, formalised by fixity and black & white photographs. In both cases, the voice animates the pictures, lending them life and a heartbeat. In this quintessentially “Marker” essay, the filmmaker pores over his old photographs to create a short phenomenology of the traveller-photographer, somewhat similar to Roland Barthes’ later writings on photography.  Simulating a conversation between friends, multiplying the subjective perspectives of the pictures and the enlightening remarks about art and the state of the world, Marker, under the cover of a polyphonic construction, offers us a personal yet modest portrait of his inner world as an image-maker at the dawn of a decade of political upheaval.

Arnaud Lambert

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Chris Marker

Chris Marker was born in 1921 in Neuilly, France. He began studying philosophy, which was soon interrupted by the world conflict. After the war, he worked for Peuple et Culture, began writing for the magazine "Esprit" and directed his first films, including "Lettre de Sibérie", which made him more widely known. Writer, photographer, filmmaker and finally multimedia artist, Chris Marker is the author of a protean and innovative work. His taste for experimentation bursts out in "La Jetée" (1962), a short film of anticipation announcing his favorite themes: time, memory, the power of images. The same year, he shoots "Le Joli Mai", in the streets of Paris, in the spirit of direct cinema. The seventies were marked by committed films, the most famous of which, "Le fond de l'air est rouge" (1977), was a review of the movements of the sixties all around the world. In this political furrow, he explored the links between individual memory and history in "Sans soleil" (1982) and then in posthumous tributes such as "Le Tombeau d'Alexandre" (1993). In the 1990s, most often in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, he designed several installations that explored the boundaries between the real and the imaginary. He died in Paris in the summer of 2012, making him a reference point for contemporary filmmakers.

Other films in the collection: Escale photographie