Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  106 minutes
Date:  2014
Genre:  Expository
Language:  French / English subtitles
Grade level: 8-12, COLLEGE, ADULT
Color/BW:  Color
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Level Five

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Laura is designing a computer game about the battle of Okinawa, but the enterprise begins to intertwine and then interfere with her life. From Chris Marker.

Level Five

A woman (Laura), a computer, an invisible interlocutor: such is the setup on which LEVEL FIVE is built. She "inherits" a task: to finish writing a video game centered on the Battle of Okinawa - a tragedy practically unknown in the West, but whose development played a decisive role in the way World War II ended, as well as in postwar times and even our present.

A strange game, in fact. Contrary to classical strategy games whose purpose is to turn back the tide of history, this one seems willing only to reproduce history as it happened. While working on Okinawa and meeting through a rather unusual network - parallel to Internet - informants and even eye-witnesses to the battle (including film director Nagisa Oshima), Laura gathers pieces of the tragedy, until they start to interfere with her own life.

As in any self-respecting video game, this one proceeds by "levels". Laura and her interlocutor, intoxicated by their enterprise, use this as a metaphor for life itself, and gladly attribute levels to everything around them. Will she attain LEVEL FIVE?

"A mesmerizing fusion of fact and (science) fiction!"—Toronto Star

"A cinematic gem!"—National Post

"A passionate and cerebral science-fiction adventure...there is nothing else in theaters now that feels quite as new."—The New York Times

"A fascinating glimpse of a historical event that's still little known in the West."—Variety

"Its digressive, elliptic, self-referential approach to depicting the atrocities of war feels like the only true response to such unimaginable horrors. At one point the narrator refers to 'the ethics of imagery', and few filmmakers have probed this field with such acuity and sensitivity as Marker has."—Time Out London

"Too complicated for words - yet unforgettable - Chris Marker signs a masterful historic-fantastic thriller, a vital reflection on death and image… A film on memory and the refusal to forget. An unforgettable film."—Pierre Murat, Telerama

"An exceptional film!"—Jean-Michel Frodon, Le Monde

"A film full of intelligence and generosity."—Gerard Lefort, Liberation

"A bit in the same way as Resnais' HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR, LEVEL FIVE unwinds the three entangled threads of a ball of yarn: transmission of History, reflection on image and film matter, intimate dialogue."—Serge Kaganski, Les Inrockuptibles

"Should rightly take its place among the late director's best work."—LA Times

"This is a fin de siecle masterpiece crafted with life-worn hope for the new millennium just around the corner and a rueful awareness that the world remains as evanescent as ever."—Mubi Notebook

"Marker's late masterpiece... keeps getting more contemporary every time I watch it... Visually rich (and beautifully written)." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Cinema Scope

"Distinct outlook... provides a visual artist’s outside perspective, replete with its director’s signature moving-image collages." - Jon Hogan, Hyperallergic


Main credits

Marker, Chris (film director)
Marker, Chris (screenwriter)
Belkhodja, Catherine (actor)
̄Oshima, Nagisa (actor)
Tokitsu, Kenji (actor)
Ushiyama, Jun'ichi (actor)
Kinj̄o, Shigeaki (actor)

Other credits

Cinematography, Yves Angelo, Gérard de Battista; sound and music, Michel Krasna.

Distributor credits

Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme

A film by Chris Marker
With Catherine Belkhodja

Docuseek2 subjects

Experimental Film
World War II
World War II (US)

Distributor subjects

Cinema Studies
Cultural Studies
Film History
French Culture
History (World)
Science and Technology
World War II


Chris Marker; Catherine Belkhodja; Okinawa; Japan; World War II; Level 5; Oshima; film; video; DVD; game developer; online; Battle of Okinawa; ; "Level Five"; Icarus Films; "Level Five"; Icarus Films

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