La Jetee: Sci Fi in Still Frame

We're up to La Jetee today, the interesting short film from France that tells a science fiction story set in the future using only black and white photographs.  Directed by Chris Marker, this film came out in 1962, and has secured a place at #142 on the TSPDT list.

La Jetee is the story of a man who has made it through the destruction of World War III, and lives in an underground city with the rest of the survivors.  He is chosen to take part in an experiment that will allow him to go back in time to the pre-war years.  He latches onto the memory of a woman he saw on a pier when he was a child, the same day that he saw a man murdered before his eyes.

As he goes back in time, he sees this woman many times, and they meet up often.  She calls him "her ghost".  After one trip to a museum, he goes back to his own time, and the scientists are satisfied that their experiment is a success.  Now they set their sights on sending him to the future.  After many attempts, they manage this, and people from the future give him a device that will allow human industry to re-establish themselves.

Now that he's back in his own time, mission accomplished, he knows that he is useless to the scientists, and he will be executed.  But before he can be, the people from the future show up and rescue him.  They want to take him back to their own time, but he asks if he can go back to the time of his childhood, so he can be with the woman.  They agree, and he ends up on the pier, looking for the woman...only to realize that the man's death he witnessed as a boy was his own.

This was a really short film, and I don't have that many random musings -- except how awesome is this quote from the beginning of the movie?

"Nothing tells memories from ordinary moments.  Only afterwards do they claim remembrance -- on account of their scars."

First of all, this is just a great quote, period.  But it also tells you everything you need to know about the movie.  The association of memories with pain, the knowledge of why this memory is such a significant one for our main's really brilliant.

I think that this is such a cool, interesting concept.  It's certainly unlike anything I've ever seen before.  It combines a fascinating science fiction story with a collection of beautiful photography.  I love how it never feels boring...just with the narration and the still images, it captures your attention for the entire film.  It somehow feels very dark and cataclysmic...even though you're just looking at photographs, you honestly feel that in this universe, the world has ended.  I genuinely cared for the characters, even though they never spoke and I spent less than a half an hour with them.  I was really shocked at how much I enjoyed this film, and how much intense and emotional it was.  I truly consider this to be a beautiful piece of art, and I'm so glad that I sat down and watched this movie.  I was completely transfixed.

Thanks for reading, and come back for Duck Soup!

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