Friday 27 August 2021

If I Had Four Dromedaries [1966]

Marker began his dazzling photo-montage If I Had Four Dromedaries with a truism on photography – not just as an artform, but as a philosophy too – in that it’s similar to hunting, albeit with the intent to eternalize the subjects being “shot” rather than to kill them. And, thereon, he crafted something that vibrantly informed the diverse shades that defined his oeuvre – his indefatigable wanderlust, stirring left-wing politics, striking photographic prowess, love for the essay form and profoundly personal voice laced with candour, wit, existentialism and avant garde spirit. At its most elemental, this essay – in the way Vertov did with Man with A Movie Camera, Varda with Salut Les Cubains and Marker himself with La Jetée earlier, and what Reggio would do with Koyaanisqatsi – was composed entirely of still images. He sifted through possibly thousands of photos taken during his breathtaking sojourns across cities, towns and locales – Moscow, Peking, Seoul, Havana, Oslo, Stockholm, Tokyo, etc., and of course his very own Paris – staggeringly cutting across 26 countries; and he used around 750 remarkable B/W ones – accompanying them with a voiceover that was alternately meditative, sardonic, mock-serious and playful – for composing this exhilarating piece. The result was wry, mordant, melancholic, poetic, incisive, and perhaps most importantly – in a myriad subtle measures – richly political. Throbbing urbanscapes, monuments, art galleries, energetic mass of people, candid faces, profiles, narrow alleys, graffiti, billboards, lonely spaces, decisive moments, silhouettes, tranquil landscapes and whatnot were combined into a collage that was euphoric and mournful, freewheeling and self-conscious, trenchant and lyrical. Further, he juxtaposed all these with sudden zoom-ins, abrupt cuts, gradual fade-ins and fade-outs, gentle pans and an idiosyncratic score with some slow jazz thrown in.






Director: Chris Marker

Genre: Documentary/Essay Film

Language: French

Country: France 

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