Chris Marker – La jetée

January 29, 2009 at 12:45 am (movies) (, , )

In 1962, the french filmaker Chris Marker released “La jetée”, a sci-fi movie 28 minutes long that would be as influential as it was short. This time I’d like to discuss about this movie, since watching it was one of the greatest pleasures I have recently experienced. I was immediatly touched by how experimental it was, and how ironic the story is, that I can easily describe it as my favorite movie. Widely unknown to most common people, “La jetée” is spectacular both as a sci-fi movie and as an avant-garde flic. In 1995, Terry Gilliam (of Monthy Python fame) would remake and enlarge it as “12 monkeys”, diverging in many ways from the original film, but maintaining the main plot.

“La jetée” presents a man who has one vivid memory of his childhood, a beautiful woman at an airport, and the assasination of another man. World War 3 begins, destroying most of France. The survivors are forced to live underground and most french people are imprisoned, amongst them our unnamed hero. Since the surface of the Earth has become arid and poisonous, the “victors” start an experiment on time travel, obviously using prisoners as guiney pigs. The process of time travel is far exhausting and complex, requiring the subject to be able to retain vivid images of the past for it to work. Naturally, our unnamed hero is quickly chosen as subject of experiment, with very succesful results.

As short as it may be, “La jetée” leaves you with a feeling of closure as much as a 120-minute movie can. By now you should be wondering why would I define this movie as “experimental” while it seems pretty normal. Well, this flic isn’t made out of a video, meaning it is not 24 frames per second. It is all made out of still images, which may sound degrading, but actually it works perfectly with the main plot of the film, since images are very important. If you can find this movie, which is quite difficult, I’d recommend you didn’t hesitate on watching it, as I have said, it is quite an experience to watch something as uncommon as “La jetée”.



  1. DMI said,

    Quite interesting, and 12 monkeys was a good movie. I’ll look for it in the interwebs, it probably wont be too hard to find.

    You mention the movie was influential? What other films have been made in the same style?

  2. McMasa said,

    Well, it was actually an hyperbole, ha ha. You see, this movie is quite a rarity in Chris Marker’s filmography, he mostly directs documentaries, and he has been influential as a documentary filmmaker, so that was mostly a mistake of mine describing the movie as influential when I should have described the director as that.

  3. said,

    good good…this post deserves nothing …hahaha just joking 😛
    …nice post 😛

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