Int. tit.: Description of a Struggle. Sog., Scen.: Chris Marker. F.: Ghislain Cloquet. M.: Eva Zora. Mus.: Lalan. Su.: SIMO. Int.: Jean Vilar (narratore). Prod.: Wim van Leer, SOPHAC. Pri. pro.: 27 aprile 1961. Digibeta. D.: 54’. Col.
Chris Marker is a modern-day poet. He is about the same age as the rolleiflex he carries around his neck. He has not composed poetry, he is not a collector of moods: he travels. He wanders. He observes. Perhaps he sees the world the way other people read books: with passion and curiosity, sometimes skipping a few pages, to go back and read them later. Maybe he is taking notes with his photographs. But you can’t be sure. In any case, they neither constitute a captain’s log nor a sketch book nor an album of souvenir photos from his pilgrimages, but rather movies (albeit of a very unusual length). This bizarre object, Les Coréennes [photography book by Chris Marker, Seuil, Paris 1959], stretches the boundaries of writing (though not as much as he would have liked) and the definitions of literary genres […]. In Lettre de Sibérie, in Description d’un combat, images vibrate like voices. And, just as every voice has its own timber, so each of Chris Marker’s images (and by that of course I mean the images with their audio accompaniment), emanates with his particular vibration. Each image of Description d’un combat is a condensed, elliptical tale of an experience; a taking possession of reality by that unique spirit and sensitivity that is Chris Marker. […] All in all, Marker’s art resembles that synthesis of images that in painting is known as collage. As Max Ernst ironically said, “If the feathers make the plumage, it is not the glue that makes the collage”. Similarly, we can say: it is not the images that make a Chris Marker film. Nor is it the commentary. But it is the editing of the commentary together with the images, for which Bazin coined the phrase horizontal editing. Such a technique is extremely novel, because it is imposed right from the start of the filmmaking process rather than, as is usually the case, as the final step. We need to emphasize that we are not speaking of editing in terms of a strictly technical process (obviously Marker needed to technically edit his films after having filmed and commented on them), but rather as Marker’s human response to reality. Editing is much more than just a technical aspect of the filmmaking process, it is first and foremost a reflection of how the director sees the world, or, if you prefer, how he expresses what he sees to the world.
André S. Labarthe, Le Rolleiflex de Christophe Colomb, “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 122, August 1961