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La Jetée (1962)

La Jetée (1962)

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Film Review
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Published by: kinblob on Jan 14, 2013
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03/01/2014

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La Jetée (1962

)
Chris Marker

Figure 1. Film Poster

Cast Jean Négroni ... Narrator (voice) Hélène Chatelain ... The Woman Davos Hanich ... The Man Jacques Ledoux ... The Experimenter

A new take on the much explored idea of time travel in cinema. La Jetée uses photography as a medium to create story, it’s a short film which runs for approximately 28 minutes; the award winning film uses images to successfully create an eerie suspense where nothing has actually happened but is about to, the viewers are forced to wait, this together with audio made La Jetée the film it is today. The Third World War has happened and scientists are experimenting with time traveling, sending subject to the past and the future to save the present, they’re drawn to a particular man who has a very vivid memory from his past of a man being shot, and a face of a woman, though he’d previously been unsure of what happened he later understands the significance of this moment. He gets sent into the past, and he meets the woman of his memory, he forms a romantic relationship with her, because of his success with time travelling into the past, he’s then sent to the future, he obtains something which is able to save his present. His mission was complete and he was to be executed, he is then contacted by people of the future who offer him a way out, they offer to keep him in the future, but he requests to go back and live in the past with the woman, when he gets back to the past, before he could reach the woman he’s killed in cold blood; this is the exact scene he see as a young child.

Figure 2. Love interest?

A film where the viewers are allowed to watch and reflect on the significance of frame before the story continue; before this film, not many people thought it was possible to tell a story with just simply images, La Jetée was the film that proved the sceptics wrong, there is a brief moment in the film where the woman blinks, though as odd as it might have been having a moving image in this film felt surreal; suspended in disbelief, the audience almost forgets that they’re watching images, but when the woman blink, it feels strange and as people talk more about what actually happens in the film, that point in the film feels like the most significant. Ureil Orlow talks about the photography in the film he said that “La Jetée represents the power to interrupt the flow of narrative” (Orlow, 1999), here Orlow talks about how effect the timing between each image is effect for the type of film La Jetée is. Interrupting the flow of narrative gives time for the viewer to think, although people can come out of the film not known what they had just seen, it gives you the opportunity to understand, and then creates appropriate suspense for a dark psycho take on time travel.

The character dies in the film, but he dies in the past, so he therefore dies in the present. No one understand time travel because it’s literally impossible, but upon reflection it becomes obvious that the main character actually doesn’t time travel, “ we are meant to exist – to live and die – in the present” (Walters, 2008), this emphasizes the fact that everyone dies in present, but the film is played out in such a way the viewer’s true believe the main character has time travelled, and when he dies, it’s like his truly died in the past. Another way of looking at the film is that the main character is given a drug and under the influence of this drug the character recollects his strongest memory of the woman, and in his head he creates a world where he time travelled everything in this world is in this head and the placebo effect kicks in, helping the main character predict the future, and when he come back to the present from his “trip”, and is informed that he’ll be killed, the scientist actually were nice enough to put him under the influence of that drug before executing him and in his head, he creates a scenario where he gets shot.

Figure 3. The beginning and the end

La Jetée is a very successful experimental film, it explores time travel, but what the whole film comes down to is memory. The simple vivid memory of a young child which shapes the future of man as a “time traveller”. “La Jetée is a complex and poetic reflection on the destructive and redemptive powers of memory” (Dillion, 2009), here Dillion shows he understand what the underlying storyline is about, the main word is memory, a memory leading to a chain of events created in the head of one man, a very tragic and yet a poetic end, La Jetée is a film that might have to be watched twice to understand the genius of it all, it’s visually pleasing and is an experience to be had by all.

Lists of Illustrations Figure 1: http://www.dking-gallery.com/store/BUF_LeJete.html Figure 2: http://carmattos.com/2011/06/28/fotografia-e-cinema/ Figure 3: http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/features/2010/12/20/freeze-frames-and-stasis-in-la-jetee/ Bibliography Orlow, U. (1999) La Jetée represents the power to interrupt the flow of narrative. In: urielorlow.net [online] http://www.urielorlow.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/01/Uriel-Orlow_Photography-as-Cinema.pdf (Accessed on 13/01/2013) Walters, S. (2008) we are meant to exist – to live and die – in the present. In: dauntlessmedia.net [online] http://dauntlessmedia.net/film/la-jetee-review.html (Accessed on 13/01/2013) Dillion, B. (2009) La Jetée is a complex and poetic reflection on the destructive and redemptive powers of memory. In: guardian [online] http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/mar/28/chris-marker-la-jetee-film (Accessed on 13/01/2013)

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