la jetee

chris marker, 1963

La Jetée can certainly be read as an allegory of psychoanalysis, in which a supine subject searches in his unconscious for the origins of his trauma.

jonathan romney

During time out from shooting Le joli mai, Marker began to take photographs for a story that would eventually become La Jetée, his most definitive foray onto the terrain of narrative fiction film and one of cinema’s most elegant and remarkable meditations on its own nature as a medium, despite (or rather because of) its being composed almost entirely of still photographs. Inimitable and provocatively influential—Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature film 12 Monkeys being the best-known homage—La Jetée is simply unlike any other film in the history of cinema. It is certainly not the only film to be composed out of still images, but its triumph is to harness them, using the classic grammar of the narrative fiction film, to the ultimate spare, stripped-down storyline (a mere twenty-seven minutes in length): a postapocalyptic science-fiction tale of tragic heroism and lost love, which turns on the fatal attraction of images and the price paid for that desire. The use of still photographs distills the essence of cinema’s appeal and its impossibility: the desire to fix that which is forever in motion, the desire to possess the presence of that which is forever absent, the willful suspension of disbelief that will create the illusion of reality from a projected stream of immobile representations.

criterion essay by catherine lupton

– recurrence of traumatic event which remains hidden until the very end

– temporal dislocation

– man given the nickname of “ghost”

– still images – highlights artifice of film but in some ways feels more natural – closer to how memory works. aware of editing, structuring, imposition of narrative. picks at the looseness of things.

– single moving image of woman – simultaneously blissful & disturbing. centre of the film; release. here that everything paradoxically stops & turns in the opposite direction.

– something about the act of looking