Level Five (1997)

94% – Critics
54% – Audience

Level Five Storyline

The French computer programmer Laura inherits the task of making a computer game of the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. She searches the internet for information on the battle, and interviews Japanese experts and witnesses. The extraordinary circumstances of the Battle of Okinawa lead Laura to reflect deeply on her own life and humanity in general, particularly the influence of history and memories.—Brian Rawnsley

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Level Five Movie Reviews

A politicaly conscious cyber-love story

If you like your Sci-fi shiny and new then Level 5 will dissapoint – It’s computer graphics are executed with a charming clunkiness that affords the story a sturdy grounding in reality.

Many will find the film ‘hard going’, but it’s rare that you will find a film with a sub-plot as potent as the one here, and it’s an informative and enriching experience.

Marker has, yet again, made a stunningly intimate and challenging film.

Another masterpiece from Chris Marker!

Here is another film from Chris Marker about memory, this time the memory of a nation (Japan), the computer age (the Internet, called OWL in the film – Optional World Link) and relationships. It is about how humankind does not deal honestly with the past, which in turn forces us to be haunted by it forever. The only way out is honesty, confession and forgiving oneself, something Japanese have not been able to do.

The heart of the film is the battle of Okinawa where the inhabitants committed mass suicide. Parents would kill their children, then the husbands their wives and then finally themselves, all out of “love”. There is an interview with a man who killed his brothers and sisters and his mother. This story (which is true) is so shocking, horrifying and heart wrecking that one wonders why it is not as well known as the concentration camps in Europe.

This is a very poetic film. I often wanted to stop the film just to write down the beautiful and thought provoking monologues. Another masterpiece from Chris Marker!

Don’t read this – Just watch the Movie

In a way it’s ironic to comment on this film through this medium as one of its themes seems to be the ephemerality of electronic communication. I say “seems” because this is an often wilfully obscure film in the tradition of Marker’s oeuvre. It ostensibly concerns a woman seeking information about the WWII massacre at Okinawa through a futuristic antecursor of the Internet, but who only finds repetitive images and foggy recollections. It seems to be a meditation on the replacement of ideas by images, and possibly a comment on we still ignore tragedy in our world even this information-saturated age. Though intensely cerebral, it’s directed stylishly and has moments of genuine poignance, and references to classic French cinema which film buffs will enjoy spotting