La Jetée is a French short directed by Chris Marker in 1962, Marker was a prominent member of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) movement which itself was part of the much more influential French New Wave.
I am not sure whether to call this work a "film" or not, as it is instead composed entirely of still photos, except for one scene for which Marker had managed to rent a camera for an afternoon.
So many things are peculiar about this work. The fact that there is no dialogue, the story is told entirely through voice-over, the aforementioned fact that it is almost entirely composed of stills and of course the strange yet compelling Science Fiction story.
Of course with such a film as this the quality of the still photographs is decisive. Luckily the photo's are excellent, each one perfectly captures the action and the scene the director is trying to express.
The story is a blend of Romance and Time travel set in a Post Apocalyptic Paris in which the surviving population must dwell under the surface.
All this might sound like in belongs in a film of a far bigger budget and a longer length (for Le Jetee is only 28 minutes long). But I can assure you that this short film, with it's still photo's and voice-over, makes for one of the most interesting Science Fiction concepts and for a film that is far more intelligent and moving than an average modern Blockbuster.
The concept was simply fascinating and incredibly imaginative. Although this was the first work by Chris Marker I had seen he instantly gained my respect and admiration for producing something so intelligent and intriguing on such limited means.
Time travel is a complex subject and films often attempt to base their plots around it but the majority fail, for either they become too complex and caught up in the various explanations that they forget about the characters and their emotions, either they are overly simple and while entertaining aren't really very thought provoking and don't bring anything new to the subject.
This film however strikes the perfect balance between the Time Travel side of the story an the Human side of the story.
The little I can say about the technical side of this work is overwhelmingly positive, the music was perfect for the horrifying and awe inspiring images of post-apocalyptic Paris, each photograph was of remarkable quality and the transitions between photo's were very inventive.
Well I can't think of much more too say about this rather unique work. One can hardly praise the acting or the direction... And I wouldn't want to give too much of the story away, so I think I'll leave it at that.
La Jetee is highly recommended, it is simply one of the finest short films I've ever seen. Twelve Monkey's is also recommended although the brilliance of La Jetee is somewhat diluted, but it's still there.
Click here for a link to the first part on Youtube (great quality!!)
This short review is somewhat of a prelude to my next (and considerably longer) review. It will also deal with a Science Fiction film and just might be my most ambitious review to date...