French filmmaker and photographer Chris Marker, born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, has died. According to Entertainment Weekly, Marker’s death, one day after his 91st birthday, was confirmed by the French Culture Ministry.
A mysterious figure who, as Tom McDonough wrote in Art in America (“Chris Marker: Gazes and Relationships,” October 2007), was reported to have been born in locales as far-flung as Ulan Bator and the suburbs of Paris, Marker was variously categorized as a novelist, travel writer and left-wing militant. He was a major influence on a recent generation of contemporary artists who have “chosen to work in the gap separating documentary from fictional forms,” according to McDonough.
Marker’s best-known work was the science-fiction short La Jetée (1962), which imagined time travel in a post-apocalyptic, subterranean civilization and was composed almost entirely of still images. It inspired the 1995 feature film 12 Monkeys, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Bruce Willis.