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The Koumiko Mystery

A personal study by cult filmmaker Chris Marker of Japan at the time of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as seen through the eyes of a Japanese girl, Koumiko Muraoka.

Shortly after making his iconic and hugely influential films La Jetée (1962) and Le Joli Mai (1963), Marker travelled to Japan to film the first Tokyo Olympics (in a previous life his job had been writing and designing a series of French travel guides called Petite Planète, the 1964 reprint of the Japan edition featured a portrait of Koumiko adorning its cover). This journey became an influential discovery for Markers future work, namely his film-essay, Sans soleil (1983). Here we see the themes he would return to, the Japanese setting, co-narrators, filming television sets, but it is in this early exploration of the form in which Marker discovers a central character (Koumiko) we find as compelling and inspiring as Marker does. His lens searches out unforgettable images everywhere Koumiko goes, building an extraordinary portrait of a woman and her world. It’s also a remarkable document of Tokyo — a glimpse of a people, their architecture, customs and culture during a period of massive transition and through the eyes of a perceptive, questioning outsider.

France, Japan
French, English