Wednesday, 13 April 2011

La Jetée, an Imaginary Film

What a relief to watch a masterpiece. I'm referring to the 1962 French science fiction film by Chris Marker, La Jetée. Although this is only a short film, constructed almost entirely from still photos, it nevertheless tells a story with intense conviction and is in my opinion masterfully done.

The story of La Jetée is set in a n the aftermath of the Third World War, in a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. A post-nuclear war survivor is the victim of an experiment in time travel.The film is constructed of black and white film images and has no dialogue aside from small sections of muttering in German. The soundtrack and voice over of a narrator depicts the whole story and is primary for creating the intensity with which the viewer is drawn into the story. The film as a photomontage required the director to convey the feeling of each scene by varying the pace and the transitions between the images. This film is a masterful merging of the basic elements of filmmaking. It also highlights the fact that films are constructed in the viewers imagination. The way in which you recall La Jetée isn't different to the way in which you would recall an ordinary film, that is one with moving pictures as we normally know film.

Not to only praise La Jetée and Chris Marker, I want to emphasize the fact that films are as Chris Marker has shown, mostly a creation of our memories in play with our imagination. Herein lies the strange power and beauty manifested in the creation of a film.

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