Friday, 15 January 2016

Cutting Edge | Film Review | La Jetée (The Pier)

Fig 1. The Movie Cover/Poster of La Jetee

La Jetee (1962) is a French science fiction movie that was directed in 1962 by Chris Marker "whose work fell into the category of thoughtful and challenging" (Patrick Samuel - 2013). It can be said that La Jetee is somewhat of a marvel within the science-fiction movie world. It is also the film that inspired Terry Gilliam to create the movie '12 Monkeys'.

La Jetee does a wonderful job of setting the scene and creating an interesting short movie with the use of purposeful and smart sounds where "The sound effects are minimal and usually represent familiar concepts such as airport sounds or footsteps."( 2012) and the use of nothing but still images to depict what is going on throughout the movie. With a runtime of 28 minutes it still manages to tell an interesting story. A story which takes us to the events during the aftermath of World War 3, the whole of Paris has been bombed and nothing remains but a smoking wreckage (See fig 2.). The survivors that we see in this film dwell underground located in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. It's down within these pits where people are conducting experiments on people in the name of discovering something in time travel. It's when we discover that the experiments aren't working on their current human guinea pigs that we meet the main character who is never given a name throughout the movie.

Fig 2. Paris destroyed after World War III

This man is the only man who is able to cope with the effects of the experiments, He willing undertakes the strenuous experiments because he is unable to escape a haunting image that he stills reminisces frequently, a haunting image of a man dying and another image of the woman who watches said death with him. Most of all it is the woman's face that has been etched into his memory (See Fig 3.). 

Fig 3. The woman who is always seen by the unnamed man

Because of the horrific views that can be seen across Paris the scientists send the unnamed man to both the past to the time before the war. The future is also where the unnamed man is transported to. This is so that the present time can return and can be rescued from the disaster that they have been inflicted with. It's when the unnamed man is hurdled into the pre-war era that he meets the unnamed woman and begins to meet her on many occasions, so that he is able to discover what life was like before the war. But through these frequent visits he and her subsequently start to become drawn to each other. The unnamed man is then given a hard choice of fleeing to the distant future of travelling backwards into the past to avoid his execution of which he has now become fully aware of.

The actions that the unnamed man undertakes lead him round in a cycle to a point where he is witnessing the events that first occurred when he was a young boy, which is the point that it is discovered that the man who was seen as young boy was in fact the unnamed man, thus backing up the theory of time and that if an event is to occur it cannot be outrun or changed. The film leaves a purposeful message to the audience, a signifier that we as humans are taking the world for granted and a great "abundance to the past" (Andy Taylor - 2003)  

It can be said the La Jetee proves that to make a impacting, memorable film it doesn't take special effects. It just needs a gripping storyline, a mastery of sounds used and of course the use of still images.

Bibliography (2012) Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Mortality and the Illusion of Time
 At: 14/01/2016

Samuel, P. (2013) La Jetee (Short Film) Review At: Accessed 14/01/2016

Taylor, A. (2003) Andy's Anachronisms - Time Travel Movie Reviews - La Jetee  At : Accessed: 14/01/2016

Image Sources

Figure 1: La Jetee Film Poster (1962) [Poster] At: Accessed 14/01/2016

Figure 2: Paris Destroyed after WWIII (1962) [Film Screenshot] At: Accessed 14/01/2016

Figure 3: The woman from the unnamed mans memories (1962) [Film Screenshot} At: 14/01/2016

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting review, well done :)
    Just a couple of points...always make sure that your film names are italicised and have the date after them in brackets, as this helps the reader understand that what they are looking at is a name, and not a 'thing'. For example, you say, 'It is also the film that inspired Terry Gilliam to go on and create 12 monkeys.' This sounds as though Gilliam was actually creating monkeys! :) You only need the date the first time you mention the film, but it should always be italicised.
    You also have a couple of typos in there - 'of' instead of 'or' etc... just always proofread to make sure you have written what you think you have.
    And finally, please could you increase your font size's very hard on the old eyes! :)