Friday, 9 January 2015

“La Jetée” movie review

 (Fig 1 – poster)
La Jetée” created by Chris Marker, is a photo montage with a gripping and inspiring narrative. It tells a story about the power of memory and time-travel.

Phillip French talks about the film: “Except for one split-second shot, La Jetée unfolds entirely in grainy black-and-white stills, with a sonorous voiceover narrative and eerie sound effects.” (French, 2011) The story unfolds in a subterranean place, where the survivors of a world disaster dwell along with scientists who send people in the past, trying to prevent the cataclysmic events, that drove them  underground and save humanity. One of the prisoners has a vivid memory of a woman from the past which is his anchor in his journeys through time. (fig. 2)

 (fig. 2 – movie still)
Chris Marker achieved incredible results with “La Jetée” because the story is about memory and the still images feel engraved in the viewer’s mind days after they watched them.  Micahel Freiman discusses “La Jetée”: “Marker’s brief is to question the workings of memory, time and why the still image has a greater capacity to affect the viewer than the moving image, which he does using complex narrative strategies.” (Freiman, 2015).

It is also clear that the images are not combined together at random. There is a strong pace in their sequence, depending on the emotional response Chris Marker wants to achieve. “Sound is not the only tool that Marker skilfully uses to set the pace of the film. The amount of time each still photo remains on the screen and the quickening or lengthening of the edits between the shots greatly sets the pace and mood of the film. Quick edits combined with the sound of the beating heart during the experiment work effectively to set the mood that a live action sequence could not.” (, 2015) (fig. 3)

(fig. 3 – still)

In conclusion “La Jetée” explores gripping subjects and an extraordinary story. Its overall feeling is as if it wants to be a full length film (which it managed to inspire in “The Twelve Monkeys”) it feels like a story stripped out of everything unnecessary and presented with mastery and creativity.

Fig. 1  - lothlaurien's lore, (2010). Art Films #101. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015].

Fig. 2 -, (2015). La Jetée (The Jetty) | Film | The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015].

Fig. 3 - Precious Bodily Fluids, (2010). La Jetée: Something is real?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015].

Freiman, M. (2015). An analysis of the Chris Marker Film 'La Jetée". [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015].

French, P. (2011). La Jetee/ Sans Soleil – DVD review. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015]., (2015). Andy's Anachronisms -- La Jetée (1962) Directed by Chris Marker. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Jan. 2015].

1 comment:

  1. Good start to the new year Vlad - nice, succinct review :)