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Single-channel video installation, 20 min. French.

With the documentary series “On vous parle de…” Chris Marker wanted to produce a counter-public – "contre-information." More than being just a portrait of publisher François Maspero, the episode Les mots ont un sens also answers the question of what role leftist intellectuals can play between militancy and information.
LES MOTS ONT UN SENS was shown in the first Berlinale Forum in 1971. In conjunction with the anniversary program the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has produced a digital restoration of Marker’s film.

Chris Marker (Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve) was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France in 1921. He studied philosophy in Paris. Sometime around 1950, he turned to film. In 1962, he created one of his most famous works, La Jetée. In addition to directing numerous documentary and essay films, Marker was a writer and photographer. He died in Paris in 2012.

“Programme Cooperative”

Once again, the class struggle, the call for solidarity and efforts to let the viewer better recognise society’s class structure – this time from France, where the tradition of the revolutionary struggle is more unbroken than it is with us in Germany. Chris Marker’s portrait of the French publisher Maspero, who publishes primarily revolutionary literature, was rather an outlier in this respect. His LES MOTS ONT UN SENS was a strained and well-behaved documentary, somewhat alienated in the manner of Godard, an interview in images and with many words. (…)

(Hans-Georg Soldat, Der Tagesspiegel, 2 July 1971. Press documentation 1971)

Director Chris Marker. Digital restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst.


1953: Les statues meurent aussi / Statues Also Die / Auch Statuen sterben (30 min., co-directed by Alain Resnais, Forum 1971). 1956: Dimanche à Pekin / Sunday in Peking (22 min.). 1958: Lettre de Siberie / Letter from Siberia / Ein Brief aus Sibirien (58 min.). 1961: Déscription d'un combat / Beschreibung eines Kampfes (60 min., Competition 1961), ¡Cuba Sí! (57 min.). 1962: La Jetée / The Pier / Am Rande des Rollfelds (26 min., Retrospective 2002). 1965: Le Mystère Koumiko (54 min.). 1967: Si j'avais quatre dromadaires (73 min.). 1970: La bataille des dix millions (58 min., Forum 1971). 1971: Le train en marche (32 min.). 1972: Vive la baleine (17 min.). 1975: L'Ambassade (22 min.). 1977: Le fond de l'air est rouge / A Grin Without a Cat / Rot ist die blaue Luft (180 min.). 1981: Sans Soleil / Sunless / Ohne Sonne (100 min., Competition (out of competition) 1983, Retrospective 1990). 1984: 2084: Vidéo-Clip pour une réflexion syndicale et pour le... / 2084 / 2084 ... plaisir (10 min., Competition 1985). 1985: A.K. (75 min.). 1990: Berliner Ballade (25 min.). 1993: Le tombeau d'Alexandre / The Last Bolshevik / Der letzte Bolschewik (120 min., Forum 1994). 1996: Level Five (106 min., Wettbewerb (Sondervorführung) 1997). 2000: Une journée d'Andrei Arsenevitch (55 min., Forum 2000). 2004: Chats perchés (57 min.). 2012: Kino (2 min.).

Photo: © ISKRA

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur