La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962, France)

La Jetee is Chris Marker's 1962 short film from director Chris Market, associated with the Left Bank artistic movement in France. The film - composed entirely of still images alongside narration and score - relays a science fiction tale about a man living underground in post-apocalyptic Paris after WWIII. Under the ground, scientists are conducting time travel experiments. Our protagonist - simply known as The Man - is made to take part in these experiments. He is haunted by a memory from his childhood of standing on the observation platform at Orly Airport in Paris. He observes a woman standing on a platform.

The power of the film is remarkable considering that it is simply a slideshow. Where the film gains its power is in the narration, music, and editing, These forces combine to bring dynamism to the film that mimics the experience of watching a true filmed narrative. Many people have praised the influence of Marker's style of narration - most notably Terry Gilliam, who later would adapt La Jetee into a feature-length version in 1995 - 12 Monkeys. There is a hypnotic quality to Marker's short which gives the film its intensity. 

It is remarkable that the film is only 28 minutes, and has more to say about life, love, and time than most films say in 2 or 3 hours. The images in the film are truly standout and memorable. Particularly the images on the observation platform. The film's twist finale is certainly one of the most memorable twist endings ever committed to film, and the image of our "Man" in his last moments has been burned into my memory ever since I saw it. Likewise, the images of the tests being conducted underground are evocative and powerful, as well as highly influential. Recommended for all fans of cinema. 



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