Chris Marker, the French filmmaker who is credited with inventing the film essay and whose short film “La jetée” inspired Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys,” died today, one day after his 91st birthday.
Marker’s passing was confirmed by France’s Culture Ministry, according to the Associated Press.
Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve (he supposedly took his surname from a Magic Marker), was a novelist before he was a filmmaker; he wrote a novel, a book of criticism on playwright-novelist Jean Giradoux, poetry, short stories and film reviews for Cahiers du Cinema.
His first film was the 1958 documentary “Letter from Siberia,” followed by “Cuba Si!” in 1961 — a film that was banned in France for two years because of its anti-American tone. In 1963 he directed another doc, “Le Joli Mai,” comprised of interviews with Parisians and commentary by Yves Montand (Simone Signoret in the English-language version).
However, it was his 1962 short film, “La jetée,” that may his best-known work. The post-apocalyptic story about a man obsessed with the past provided the inspiration for Terry Gilliam to create “12 Monkeys” (which Marker co-wrote).
Other documentaries included “The Koumiko Mystery” (1965), “The Train Rolls On” (1971), “Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge” (1977), “Sunless” (1983), Akira Kurosawa profile “AK” (1985) and “The Last Bolshevik” (1992).
Among his last works was a multimedia installation for the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Zapping Zone, and a CD-ROM, “Immemory.”