'La Jetee' (1962) I Director: Chris Marker I Cinematographer: Chris Marker.
Chris Marker's seminal science fiction short stood apart from other films of it's generation. Running for twenty eight minutes and composed almost entirely of still images, the moment the static imagery changes to filmic status, that of a woman opening her eyes is a truly breathtaking experience.
It is far from being a straightforward time travel story. Set in a dystopian future, it's a philosophical investigation into memory, human perception and of course time. Therein lies the strange quality of the film. It investigates the idea of time lapse and movement yet the lack of it found in the visuals, invites the audience to think non-linearly and form their own conclusions.
The unpredictability and mystique of 'La Jetee' is wholly due to it's disquieting voice-over commentary, a dream-like soundscape and haunting montage of black and white photographs. The ambiguity of the narrative and it's brilliant editing techniques encapsulates it's existential themes of predetermined death and doomed existence.
I watched this only yesterday (another much talked about classic, I had held back to get to) and I now understand why it was considered Marker's most celebrated work. I was taken into a world of psychological instability, seen through a very subjective viewpoint. It was disconcerting yet hypnotic to sit through this unique piece of experimental artistry. I read somewhere Marker was heavily affected by Hitchcock's Vertigo (a piece of trivia, I was mightily impressed with) and these striking allusions are strongly present throughout. In turn Terry Gilliam was inspired to make an adaptation. So lots of creativity all round and another film (‘12 Monkeys’) to put onto my ever mounting to be watched list.