• Icarus Films
Chris Marker's Level Five, a multi-layered effort from 1997—experimental film, historical documentary, love story—that's screening at the Grand Illusion, and arrives in the US for the first time, much like Éric Rohmer's A Summer's Tale and Alain Resnais' Je t'aime, je t'aime, two other French films which never saw a Stateside run until this summer.

As with Resnais' time-travel film, Level Five arrives from the past to consider the past, since Marker built it around the Battle of Okinawa, and the director, like the Japanese citizens who took their lives in 1945, is no longer with us (not that Marker, who died in 2012, passed away under such tragic circumstances).

In the film, Catherine Belkhodja plays programmer Laura (a nod to the Otto Preminger noir) who inherited a game about the tragedy from her late partner. By working on the project, she keeps his memory alive—she talks to it like Joaquin Phoenix in Her—while recognizing the Okinawans who chose death over defeat.

Level Five shares little connective tissue with previous video-game films like Tron, and it's more challenging than La Jetée, his best known work (which inspired 12 Monkeys), but it confirms Marker as cinema's most empathetic essayist.

Level Five, in a new digital restoration, opens today—find Movie Times here.