Worksheet 4 - Worksheet four Chris Markers Le Tombeau...

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Worksheet four Chris Marker’s Le Tombeau d’Alexandre was made in video in 1992. The literal title in English is Alexander’s Tomb or Vault . The English release in VHS is misleadingly entitled The Last Bolshevik A tomb can be considered to contain a collection of fragments of memories, bits and pieces of a life of someone dear and important, in this case, Alexander Medvedkin, a Russian filmmaker of the last century largely unknown and forgotten who Marker rediscovered and to that extent resurrected bringing the past back to life as a result of present concerns both aesthetic and political. The film is in the form of six letters, five covering a period of Medvedkin’s life side by side with historical changes in Russia. The last letter is an epilogue. The five periods are: Russia under Tsarism (Medvedkin was born in 1900), the October revolution, the ciné-trains, Stalinism, the death of Medvedkin. Memory for Marker (central to all his films) has little to do with remembering, but rather with rewriting, that is, memory not as a direct relation to the past but its reconstruction. Memory is a construction of realities in the past. It concerns images, imaginings, writings, and in the case of Le Tombeau d’Alexandre two memories, that of the life of Medvedkin (largely forgotten) and that of the history of Russia and the Soviet Union (to a large extent also forgotten). The film juxtaposes these memories of the intimate and the historical, made of images and of words (interviews, letters, photographs, archival films, animation, fictional films, testaments, comments, direct footage). Its not an instructional, informative, documentary film in the usual sense but rather a poem or a piece of music using documents of a variety of kinds. All of its images, because they are essentially memories, are problematic, since a memorialised reality is a matter of construction and imagination, hence of fiction, less or remembering than re-forming. There are numerous examples in the film of the fictional serving as historical document (the storming of the Winter Palace in Eisenstein’s October ) and the real becoming fictional (the meeting up of the Russian troops at the end of the war on two fronts restaged as actuality), and most chilling of all, reality in becoming fiction becomes all too real (the staging of the Moscow trails where innocent people confessed to non-existent crimes and were shot like Meyerhold, Bukharin, Babel), and there is too the parody of such relations (an actor playing Stalin who knows about tractors), whereas to actually film Stalin could mean immediate execution. The real, in that sense, either historical or biographical, is essentially unattainable because it is impermanent and ever shifting as all images are, subject to transience, rewriting, remembering and thereby to a constant movement, a slide and back and forth between document and fiction. Le Tombeau d’Alexandre
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This note was uploaded on 09/23/2011 for the course FIL 3363C taught by Professor Samrohdie during the Fall '09 term at University of Central Florida.

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Worksheet 4 - Worksheet four Chris Markers Le Tombeau...

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