Marker's documentary on the young State of Israel reflects the general sympathy for it among the European left of the time, sympathy that would dissipate as the Occupation took hold. There still is, nonetheless, a discordant tone, where Marker rightly questions the conundrum of what to do with Israel's Palestinian citizens. A valuable, if slightly flawed, glimpse of the pre-1967 reality.
Undeniable historical value of the footage, we witness Israel in its early years - fresh, filled with hope, but without a clear direction. Chris Marker manages to notice and capture the importance of that decisive moment, and in some regards it is hauntingly prophetic. There are hints of Marker's poetic dreaminess that I love, but not fully developed - the narration feels monotonous and unnecessary at times.
Accompanied by an eerie/eastern/jazzy soundtrack and a brilliant and witty text, the images in Description d'un Combat are moving portraits of a whole nation. The cinema of Chris Marker is one of acute precision. Every cut, transition, word, picture, sound, noise and breath always hits the right note. This essay shows Marker as he was: the oniscient conductor and soloist of his one-man orchestra.
Marker is an artist alone in a novel field, and everything is at all times so modulated and precise as to beggar belief. It is utterly humbling to see an artist again and again remain so utterly in control of the residue of chaos and drift. He is an impressionist who encounters and synthesizes. He is an essayist, naturally. But he is also a poet of incomparable reach and singularity. This movie is a crystal.
"Look at her" Marker says about an israeli woman painting. She is the symbol of Israels future, she is the symbol of Israel. In this film I find Marker is communicating WITH the audience, not TO. We are dancing poetically together in this film, through the politics and history of Israel, past and future.
2.5 Great to see the historical footage. The narration was filled with odd bits ("their sheep-herding instincts"? "there are Chagalls among the Rubens"? "Christmas was spent aboard the ship"?) that made me question the omniscient voice's ideological underpinnings. Attempts at wryness or pure snark? Did appreciate a couple succinct gems of truth about Israel's moral dilemma.
He's able to capture a lot of incredible stuff. I wish it'd lingered on a single subject or idea instead of bouncing around attempting to be comprehensive. I enjoyed the narration, lots of lines fucked with my head, but found my attention to the narration drifting back and forth.
(2.5 stars) Presented in the style of a '50's news reel or perhaps those old '60s science reels they would show in school, this documentary relies on the narrator to paint an interesting story behind the history of the images we see. It's a pretty well laid out informational story of Israel. A bit dry, but still interesting enough to enjoy.