La jetée (English: The Jetty and The Pier) (1962) is a 28-minute black and white science fiction film by Chris Marker. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel.
In the movie, the survivors of a destroyed Paris in the aftermath of World War III live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. They research time travel, hoping to send someone back before the devastating war to recover food, medicine, or energy for the present, “to summon the past and future to the aid of the present.” The traveler is a male prisoner; his vague but obsessive childhood memory of witnessing a woman (Hélène Chatelain) during a violent incident on the boarding platform (“The Jetty”) at Orly Airport is used as the key to his journey back in time. He is thrown back to the past again and again. He repeatedly meets and speaks to the woman who was present at the terminal. After his successful passages to the past, the experimenters attempt to send him into the deep future. In a brief meeting with the technologically advanced people of the future, he is given a power unit sufficient to regenerate his own destroyed society.
On his return, he is cast aside by his jailers to die. Before he can be executed, he is contacted by the people of the future, who offer to help him escape to their time, but he asks to be returned to the time of his childhood. He is returned, only to find the violent incident he partially witnessed as a child was his own death as an adult.
La jetée has no dialogue aside from small sections of muttering in German; the story is told by a voice-over narrator. It is constructed almost entirely from optically printed photographs playing out as a photomontage of varying pace. It contains only one brief shot originating on a motion-picture camera. The stills were taken with a Pentax 24×36 and the motion-picture segment was shot with a 35mm Arriflex. The film score was composed by Trevor Duncan. (wikipedia)
(originally posted on 1/10/07):
Today we watched Chris Marker’s Le Jette – ON FILM – this was a surprise to know that the school has a copy. You probably are wondering what’s the difference? Well we were able to watch the film the way that it was created and not transfer to vhs or dvd – the noise of the projector is all part of the experience. So this was our major transition from the still to the moving image. The film 12 Monkeys gives credit to Le Jetee as inspiration. Any thoughts?