Jim Hoberman writes: "Marker begins by evoking Battleship Potemkin, and although hardly agitprop, A Grin Without a Cat is in that tradition—a montage film with a mass hero. Unlike Eisenstein, however, Marker isn't out to invent historical truth so much as to look for it."
Starting a movie with images and reminiscences from another one... Potemkin was about a failed uprising, a lost battle in a larger struggle. It was a call to action. The purpose of Le fond de l'air is the same, and Marker is very quick to draw the parallel between the Russian soldiers marching and the cops with gas-masks in the late 60s. And similar to Eisenstein, the montage creates a purely intuitive politics of revolt beyond ideologies...
The cumulative effect of seeing millions of people (the "mass hero", as Hoberman calls it) from all over the world, caught in the violent moment or expressing thoughts... And Chris Marker, embracing his subjectivity, is one of them... Makes one more and more conscious of one's own moment.
What Le fond de l'air leaves me with is a sense of a timeless history, a world without arbitrary boundaries, and a sense of a non-decipherable cosmos.
Here is a short piece from Chris Marker's 3-hour masterpiece (It is one of the rare sublime uses of Bach's music in Cinema):
Click here to read something I wrote on Le fond de l'air est rouge in 2002. (It might contain a few factual mistakes.)