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15.8.12

Chris Marker and Vichy

We lamented the recent death of singular filmmaker and writer Chris Marker (La jetée, Sans soleil). He was extolled in the French press, beginning with his career in the 1950s, working at Esprit and supporting the Communist party. Eric Marty, a professor of contemporary literature at the Université Paris-Diderot, writes about the much less publicized episode of Marker's life during the Occupation, when he went by the pseudonym Marc Dornier. This comes from an article (Un moment pétainiste dans la vie de Chris Marker, August 15) in Le Monde (my translation):
A page in the journal of the extreme-right journalist François Sentein, close friend of Jean Genet during the war, which was published as Les Minutes d'un libertin (1938-1941) (Le Promeneur, 2000), on February 15, 1941, relates the manner with which he was courted during that period by a certain number of Vichy intellectuals, among them Marc Dornier, who invited him to collaborate on the Cahiers de la Table ronde, a subtitle of La Revue française that he was about to found.

A note of François Sentein further specifies about the name of Marc Dornier: "Later known as a critic and filmmaker, under the name of Chris Marker." Olivier Cariguel, in his remarkable Panorama des revues littéraires sous l'Occupation (IMEC, 2007) creates a clear portrait of the magazine directed by the man who was not yet called Chris Marker and already no longer went by his real name, Christian Bouche-Villeneuve. It was, according to him, part of the pétainiste wave that was trying to take form after the disaster of June 1940.

The manifesto, published in the first issue and signed by Marc Dornier, is unequivocal: "We are in a time of national revolution, that is, a time where everything should correspond to the criteria of will and action. To adopt a static position at this moment is an anti-constitutional act," he writes in his conclusion.
The magazine, published in Vichy, had only two issues. After that, at some point in 1942, Dornier joined the resistance with other members of the communist party. Although he came close to being revealed for his Vichy associations, Marker avoided any biographical references to the period and refused to be photographed in the years after the war.

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