Saturday, 19 January 2013

Storytelling and Commission: La Jetee - Review

La Jetee is a science-fiction short film made in 1962 by Chris Marker. It is constructed mainly from black-white photos, though a little amount of live footage has also been used in the production.

Located in the postapocalyptic, postwar Paris, people live underground trying to solve the mystery of time travelling in order to save the world from Third World War which destroyed their times and lives.
Marker's short tells a story of a man (Davos Hanich) who's the subject of scientific experiments; being send to the past he discovers the truth about his memories and what he really saw as a child.

It is not easy to produce an interesting and apllying short movie, though Marker managed to do that. His story is no longer than 28 minutes but it makes the viewer stop for a while and think about what they saw. Only with the use of photography the director succeded in showing strong emotions and convincing feelings. Vallows-Dancy's quotation states it clearly:

Director Chris Marker manages to evoke an atmosphere of sheer sadness and dread, interestingly enough, through the use of little more than still images, which says a lot about his talents as a filmmaker.” (Vallows-Dancy, 2012)

Though 1960s.might be considered as multifarious times of the cinematography, La Jetee stands out with its original plot and all the twists of the story.
Unfortunately, even though
The story packed the biggest punch, the ending a real kicker.” (Black, 1999) is a correct and really convincing statement, in contemporary times La Jetee's script is nothing beyond well known.
XXI century is the time of various topics and sometimes bizzare ideas; it became more difficult to impress the audience. Movie directors race and compete with each other in order to catch the viewers attention. A logical and nitely made series of photos put into a movie is not going to impress people who seek for block-busters and colourful action movies.

Nonetheless, amongs adventure-cinema seekers there are still people who can appreciate and respect the less-popular production of the cinematography, notice their values and praise them. Marker undoubtfully proves that a successful movie doesn't have to be a block-buster with a twisted story and special-effects. The masterpiece of photography and movie editing has been embedded in that 28 minutes long movie.
Battleship Pretension states a very valuable point:
This is, ultimately, what makes a series of stills so effective – they feel alive, but tied to the past, tied to a fate that has already been set.” (Battleship Pretension). Photography has always been considered as a link to the past. Sometimes a very personal connection to events that occurred; Marker couldn't have had used a better way of visualizing a story about time travelling.

Undoubtfuly, Chris Marker's La Jetee is a story with a very up-to-date plot, shown in an old-school way, that influenced many contemporary productions and movie directors.

    * Black, Louis (1999) online source:
    * Battleship pretension, online source:
  2. Stills:

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