Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Cutting Edges: Film Review- La Jetée

Fig 1: Poster of "La Jetée"
Dealing with the complicate matter that is time travel, "La Jetée" is a French Science-Fiction film made in 1962 and directed by Chris Marker"it manages to tell a gripping, haunting story and create an ominous and powerful atmosphere simply through the masterly manipulation of frozen images and a subtle soundtrack made up of heartbeats, whispers, jet engines and other sound effects" (TV Guide, Chef Editor Mickey O'Conner)Set in Paris post a nuclear war breaks out, the film, made up entirely with still images, tells a story of survivors who live underground as a result of the nuclear fallout from the war. Scientists have come up with a way to use sleeping patients as a means of time travel to go to the past and the future but aren't able to find any test subjects that can withstand the shock of the experience they go through. However they find one patient who is able to with stand the trauma of it so the scientists decide to use him in their experiments. Due to the painful memories of the man's past of a woman at Paris Airport, with a very memorable face and vaguely of a mans death that continue to haunt him throughout his life.

Fig 2: Visual shot of the girl from the past
The scientists send him backwards and forwards in time to find a way to save the present, starting with the past the man finds himself stunned by a dateless world of life and prosperity. He spends his time there searching for the girl of his memories, seeing figments of her, not to sure if she's the girl he's been looking for. The scientists start to focus their control on the man and the next time he arrives in the past he is in touching distance of the girl. Love starts to blossom between the two, as they walk around Paris, she asks about him about his necklace that he got at the start of the war that was soon to happen. On his tells her of his past, which is too fanatical for her to believe. He wonders if this is right, to wonder for countless days in a quiet trust and love with the girl from his memories.
One day she seems to be frightened but the man isn't sure that what he's seeing is real or a dream as the tests on him increase in intensity. On the 50th day, the two meet in an animal museum, thanks to the testing the man is able to stay there without trouble and the two enjoy the day together as a couple. When the man returns to the present he realises that the visit to the museum would be his last as the tests change over to send him into the future due to the successful results the tests have had so far. The future is harder to reach when compared to the past but the man is able to make it through, into a new planet, in a new Paris. Upon arriving he is surrounded by the future humans who refused the man's present at first before the man tries to make peace in saying that the future humans can't leave the humans of the present to rot. They give him a power source as to revive civilisation and cut off any access to the future from then on. The man is then returned back to his cell, his memories used as bait to give the scientist what they want, knowing that he'd be executed. He remembers a message of the people of the future who had travels in time much more effectively then him, and were willing to let him stay with them in the future. He refused, wanting to meet the girl of his memories, ending up on the airport where his memory of the girl originated. As he approached the girl he sees the men from back in the present who chased him back into the past and it is then that he realises; his memory back then was of the death of himself.

Fig 3: visual of the airport where the original memory of the girl occurred 
The length of the film is short, the plot is a simple romance tragedy with the use of time travel. However despite this, the story is well developed, it's setting and use of time travel gives the film more depth. There are also 2 major time paradoxes in the film, with how when the man went to the future they were willing to give the power source needed for human survival to give to the present day and how the man saw his own death as a child. "La Jetée’s elliptic opening and closing scene display the same action from two perspectives, seen simultaneously by a man near the beginning and end of his life. It is the preeminent rendition of a classic paradox, and it is a science-fiction film stripped to its bare essence, its science."(Rumsey Taylor, Not Coming, 11/7/04)However despite this, due to the originality of the fact that "La Jetée" is motionless yet is able to show such detailed story of love and time travel led the short film to win a Prix Jean Vigo. While the narration could be seen as dull in tone it helps in drawing the viewer into the story "The narrator’s own haunting story is what makes this film truly mesmerising."(Marty Mapes, Movie Habit, 4/9/2000)


fig 1: http://pics.filmaffinity.com/The_Jetty_The_Pier-560379055-large.jpg
fig 2: http://www.cinemas-online.co.uk/images/jetee_4%20(Medium).jpg
fig 3: http://40.media.tumblr.com/e8418ee18cc2c81d601d2ef309e940d4/tumblr_nm6zp9u1Hv1tus777o4_1280.png
quote 1: http://www.tvguide.com/movies/la-jetee/review/132177
quote 2: http://www.notcoming.com/reviews/lajetee/
quote 3: http://www.moviehabit.com/reviews/laj_id00.shtml

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