Chris Marker, famed French director of ‘La Jetee,’ dies at 91

Helene Chatelain starred in Mr. Marker’s “La Jetee’’ (1962).
Helene Chatelain starred in Mr. Marker’s “La Jetee’’ (1962). –New Yorker Films

PARIS — Chris Marker, the influential French filmmaker whose career spanned six decades, has died, France’s Culture Ministry confirmed Monday. He was 91.

President François Hollande led tributes to the director, whose large body of work includes the 1962 classic ‘‘La Jetee,’’ a post-apocalyptic movie that is often ranked among the best time-travel films.

Hollande said the 28-minute film made mostly of stills ‘‘will be remembered by history.’’

Set in a post-World War III nuclear-devastated Paris, ‘‘La Jetee’’ tells the story of a prisoner sent to the past and future to save the present.It was one of the first to use sci-fi notions of circular time and hasspawned a myriad of references.

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‘‘La Jetee’’ will probably be best remembered as the inspiration behind Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature ‘‘Twelve Monkeys,’’ but many critics say its influence stretches as far as James Cameron’s 1984 and 1991 ‘‘Terminator’’ movies.

Mr. Marker — born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve and still active into his 80s — was also known for the documentary style seen in his other famous work, 1983’s experimental essay-film ‘‘Sunless,’’ which again takes up time themes in earlier material.

In ‘‘Sunless,’’ the thoughts of a world traveler are narrated and used to look at the failings of human memory, especially in creating world history.

Mr. Marker’s work was often politically engaged, and in 1967 he produced ‘‘Far from Vietnam,’’ a documentary film featuring pieces by Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais that opposed US involvement in southeast Asia.

Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob called Mr. Marker an ‘‘indefatigable filmmaker.’’

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