A Grin Without a Cat: Part 2
1993, NR, 90 min. Directed by Chris Marker.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Thu., Oct. 10, 2002
Frenchman Chris Marker practically invented the essay film and has certainly remained one of the form's most esteemed and poetic practitioners. His 1962 masterpiece "La Jetée" is a faceted gem-like study of history, memory, and personal reflection and provided the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's later Twelve Monkeys. A Grin Without a Cat (the title comes from a difficult-to-translate French slogan from the May ’68 demonstrations) is an epic film essay divided into two 90-minute parts. The movie explores revolutions and the New Left from the Russian Revolution to Vietnam, Bolivia, Prague, Chile, and elsewhere. In 1993, Marker revisted the film after the fall of the Soviet Union and added material. Now, a two-part version has beenn released for American audiences. Part 1 is titled "Fragile Hands" and traces the growth of the student antiwar movement into the revolutionary surge that nearly toppled the government of Charles de Gaulle in 1968. Part 2, "Severed Hands," moves from the Russian repression of the Prague Spring to the coup d'état in Chile. In Marker's hands, the political is always personnal - and so is the documentary form.