Styrofoam critic (click here for home)

November 22, 2011

La Jetée (1962)

Filed under: Film Comment — Daniel Min @ 12:27 am

Chris Marker the ultimate media artist and what Alain Resnais would refer to him as the “prototype of the twenty-first century man” [1], created one of the most intriguing circular narratives into an eloquent photomontage consisting of black and white optical photo prints. La Jetée is an extraordinary installment of the science fiction genre that inspired contemporary artists into creating such works of art by reflecting the ingenuity of Chris Marker.

 La Jetée depicts France in a post apocalyptic nuclear war zone. Underneath where the survivors inhabit in their own dwellings. A soldier is picked amongst the mass to become their test subject traveling to the past and future in hopes of saving mankind. Dreams of the future where the soldier see himself at the Orly Airport meeting the hands of death and the woman who will be his significant companion during his time travel. Every shot has a meaning and every piece of artifact becomes the subject of such illustrious photo that conveys such incredible depth of beauty, especially during their visit to Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. A mesmerizing work that left me in a state of awe when I first saw this, La Jetée is ahead of its time and will influence later generations of prospective film makers and photographers over the next millennium.

Chris Marker is by far the most mysterious out of all the left bank directors associated with La Nouvelle Vague. He has worked with a full spectrum of technological medium that experimented with computers, photography, television and films (including an interactive CD-ROM “Immemory” that deals with the concept of perception and reality of memory). A former Resistance member of the Free French Forces and the U.S.A.F. Pararescuemen (rumored), Chris Marker dedication to anti-war fully developed around the time when Algeria seceded from France for its independence (A very painful reminder for the French since they lost the war on colonialism and is heavily brought up in films such as Resnais’s “Muriel”, Godard’s “Le Petit Soldat” and Pontecorvo’s documentary) and the student protest of May 1968. Throughout his career he has traveled all over the world documenting the obscurity and beauty of our planet yet it leaves me to speculate why there are very few interview or articles about him (his hermeticism is quite amusing because he often leaves a picture of a cat upon request for interviews). [2]

 Note: Last film I’ve seen directed by Chris Marker was “Level Five”. A semi documentary about a French video game programmer who is assign to recreate the battle of Okinawa, it is told through haunting memories of the Imperial Japanese soldiers and the lost memory of the Information Technician with her past lover. Unlike most well known directors his films are very difficult to acquire and hard to find online (Thank God for youtube because I can finally see his documentary on Akira Kurosawa for free).

References:

[1] http://soma.sbcc.edu/users/davega/FILMST_118/FILMS/La%20Jetee/La%20Jetee.txt

[2] http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2002/great-directors/marker/

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. I have learned a lot this semester and saw some great films, but I couldn’t agree with you more about “La Jetee”. This was the first time I have watched this film and I was also left in awe after the viewing. But with that feeling also came confusion about it was done. Unlike other students in the class who know more about film and really are great at analyzing scenes, I feel like I am the only one who was left confused during the screening. I don’t know much about Chris Marker, but the photography was amazing throughout the short film. The images and the sound created a suspenseful mood that I was afraid of something was going to pop out and scare the audience. This is definitely a film I would watch over and over again, just to understand what its all about.
    The short was innovative because of how it was filmed. Just using photography is a great idea and the use of black and white add more to the suspense. I got feeling as if Chris Marker was extremely influenced from film noir because of the mood and lighting the film had. Just looking at these pictures you put up give me more of a reason to watch it again. The photography is so powerful. Also the score was awesome. Talking about the film right now is just giving me goosebumps. Nice post dude, also thanks for the little note you put at the end of your post.

       Steven Rengifo — December 5, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  2. Thanks Steven. Honestly,If I was to watch this film just for the narrative alone I wouldn’t understand it however I understood it for the purpose of art. I agree with you that Chris Marker is ingenious.

       Daniel Min — December 6, 2011 @ 2:00 am

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