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Chris Marker has been called cinema’s premier essayist. His idiosyncratic yet committed documentaries, such as Letter from Siberia and Sans Soleil, reveal an ironic wit, escaping the didacticism common to many a “political” filmmaker. Originally released in 1977 (revised 1988), A Grin without a Cat (240 min., video) is a look at the successes and failures of the political left during the heady days from 1967 to 1977. Although Marker focuses on the left’s god that failed, France of May ’68, it is the question of revolutionary struggle itself that is his ultimate concern.