· Title La Jetee
· Directed by Chris Marker
· Release date 1962
· Running time 28 minutes
La Jetee, is a French science fiction film from 1962, directed by Chris Marker.
It tells the story of a prisoner in the aftermath of the Third World War, living in a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. Scientists hope to use time travel, to call past and future to the rescue of the present. They have difficulty finding subjects who can mentally withstand the shock of time travel, but eventually settle upon the prisoner, whose key to the past is a vague but obsessive memory, from his pre-war childhood, of a woman he had seen on the observation platform 'the jetty' at Orly Airport shortly before witnessing a startling incident there. He had not understood exactly what happened, but knew he had seen a man die.
After multiple attempts, he meets the woman from his memory, and they develop a relationship. After his successful passages to the past, the experimenters attempt to send him into the far future. He meets the advanced people of the future, and they give him a source of power strong enough to regenerate his own time.
With his mission accomplished, he learns that he is to now be executed. The people of the future contact him and offer to help him escape to their time, but he requests instead to be returned to the time of his childhood, hoping to find the woman again. He is returned and does find her, on the jetty at the airport. However, as he rushes to her, he notices one of the jailers who has followed him and realises the jailer is about to kill him. In his final moments, he comes to understand that the man’s death he witnessed as a small child, at the start of the film was in fact his own.
This 27miniute film is composed entirely of still frames, this adds to the narration and storytelling of the movie as the viewer is completely focused on the image and the voice of the narrator during the movie, unlike modern day Hollywood films that try to give you a ‘visual overload’. ”La jetee is a remarkable and unique experimental short that consists solely of still frames, narration, music andsound effects” (Phil Hall, April 29, 2011)
Figure 3: The time travler
The scene’s show casing the post-apocalyptic world are very dark and don’t really show too much, “as a result of us being emotionally imprisoned by the atmosphere of the film. This touches on an almost gothic level of horror by rendering historical linearity meaningless” (Dan Jardine, September 8, 2006) you get such a good sense of desperation and despair from just the images alone that it adds a great deal to the story narration and helps to keep viewers immersed in the narration. “La Jetée belongs to a genre that breeds opportunity for elaborate vision and little thought; the film is responsibly contrary to both assessments. Its strength is its simplification” (Rumsey Taylor, 11 July 2004) La Jetee has been a very influential science fiction film over the years, having been the key influence behind Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (1995) from which it takes several concepts directly from, La jetée.
Fig 2: http://s3.amazonaws.com/criterion-production/post_images/2351/video_still_La_Jetee_Feature_Current.jpg?1340313476
Quote 1 ( Phil Hall): http://www.filmthreat.com/features/34818/
Quote 2 (Dan Jardine): http://djardine.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/la-jetee-dan-briefly-interjects-and.html
Quote 3 (Rumsey Taylor): http://djardine.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/la-jetee-dan-briefly-interjects-and.html