M. Salmassi

Sans Soleil (1983)




 Initial attempt at a rubbing on Sans Soleil (Ulmer)

Film highlights:

  • Experimentation, de-construction, and ecological concerns
  • Reflexive memory and historical memory
  • Motion, momentum, distance, perspective
  • Beautiful images / sites of attraction
  • Dimensions of space that do not extend beyond outer layers of earth’s atmosphere with the exception of a momentary jettison in outer space
  • Psycho-geographical space (Debord)
  • Highly conscious of social relations and rituals
  • Use of montage
  • Physical space, mental space, and social space (Lefebvre)
  • The arcade (Benjamin)


Philosophical context:

  • Western  philosophy:  Renee Descartes

Political context:

  • Algerian War
  • Cold War

Artistic context:

  • Abstract expressionism with color saturated footage
  • Postmodernism with focus on physiognomy




  • Can an argument be made about body without organs?  (Deleuze)
  • Can a case be made about marker of power versus syntactic power?  The volcano in Iceland erupted  in 1973
  • Can an argument be made about a feminist approach?
  • What are the relations between shown spaces and terms vocalized through narration?




  1. John Vu

    Personally, I find an appeal in Marker’s juxtaposed use of other works of fiction and forming connections around those.

    For example, his use Galaxy Express 999 duing the train scenes, etc.

    There is also an appeal in how far these connection can go: Marker’s use of the Pier as a reference to his own La Jetée, which is the influence to 12 Monkeys, directed by Terry Gilliam, the director of the films discussed in my paper.

  2. admin

    In Thousand Plateaus, D & G argue that the Earth itself can be seen as a Body without Organs (or BwO). This seems to indicate a kind fluidic vision of forces, flows, and strata, which is “deterritorialized” and not fixed. This is in keeping with Deleuze’s (and Edouard Glissant’s) view of the world, identities and even actual bodies as a matter of change and becoming, rather than stable categories, boundaries or organs. Here, it could be argued that Sans Soleil similarly destabilizes maps and territories. Volcanoes and lava could certainly fit in with this idea of flux.
    But in Deleuze there is also a relation between this deterritorialization and a non-linear version of time that arguably is similar to Marker’s obsession with undoing linear history (and narrative) in favor of more amorphous memories.
    Also, Marker did a lot of political work, especially early in his career, including work on feminist and women’s issues. On the other hand, he does sometimes fall into certain stereotypes about women, not least of which is an association of women with a certain mysteriousness.

  3. L Arango

    >>What are the relations between shown spaces and terms vocalized through narration?
    I think that there is a lot to explore here. For example, you can show an image and verbalize its contrary or humorize the visual content. And I can’t help to ask, can I show an image an narrate differently to convey different situational summaries?

  4. Ashkan

    I like the idea of the maps, and the breakdown of the maps. I think there might be a lot of room to play with this in the context of Sans Soleil. Might be interesting to try to specialize Sans Soleil, forming an interactive essay revolving around a constant or non-constant clickable map. Of course, D&G and Debord would be very relevant here. The initial seed is in your first image in this presentation, and then you can build on top of it.

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