Today we watched a French 1962 film called La Jette. My first reaction to the short film was ‘what the hell is going on’.
“This is the story of a man marked by an image from his childhood.” That’s the opening (the first voice) of Chris Marker’s film. The phrase broaches a story (the hero will travel in time toward that childhood image); the destruction of cities and the devastation of the earth’s surface have threatened the very reality of the present and have thus let loose temporal virtualities normally locked up or held captive in the past (the past consisting only of a series of images that have become autonomous, tied to the living only by some affect or trauma). The fiction of La Jetée is thus a certain kind of work—whose object is the film’s hero—concerning the paradoxes of memory, concerning the inclusion of the past that lives on within the hero as an image, as a secret that the laboratory experiments in the underground camp will try to make him confess. The realization of the confession comes with the death of the hero himself as he relives a moment of his past, as he meets once again the girl whose image has haunted him.
The film is purely made up of images which are used to tell the story instead of film. I think that this is a risky option as we are unable to connect with the characters simply because we cannot see the body language and expressions used by the characters. Also, the film was set to be French however I did witness some German speaking throughout which also confused me..
After having a group discussion about the film I found out that the film maker did not have a camera at the time so he therefore became one of the first ever to create a film made of only still images.
The exciting part is that although only images were used, there was still a very unique sense of movement between each image which made it easy on the eye.
The film is about a memory of a man and the soundtrack and structure of images help portray this well.