La Jetée is the best-known film of Chris Marker, who was associated with the ‘left bank’ grouping of the French New Wave. This 28-minute, black-and-white masterpiece made entirely form a montage of photographs. La Jetée was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, a 29 million dollars big budget Hollywood ‘remake’. However, science-fiction in La Jetée provides Marker with a narrative alibi-time-travel-by which to explore, with affecting poetry, the ideas of memory and time which are the key themes of this work.
It narrates the story of a prisoner, who survived in the nuclear blast of ‘the third World War’. He has been chosen as the subject of time-travel experiments in post- apocalypse Paris, he will be sent back before the devastating war to recover food, medicine or energy to rescue the present, and “to summon the past and future to the aid of the present”. His childhood memory of witnessing a beautiful woman facing a violent incident at Orly Airport has became the linchpin upon which success or failure depends.
I chose three photographs in order to analyse their ‘cinematic looks’ and their significances in the film narration.
The photograph in the beginning is part of the description of memory, occurred “on the main jetty at Orly airport, sometime before the outbreak of WWIII” while the boy sees a murder--a dying man fell to the ground, and in the background, a terrified woman also witnesses the scene. Marker describes this moment as ‘Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scars’. Camera was placed at about three feet above the ground, hinted it is from the boy’s view point. It illustrates the way the careful positioning of actors’ looks produces meaning, characters are positioned in ways that provide insight into their relationships and suggest the dying man and the woman’s motivations later in the film. It is obvious that the woman is showing humane qualities of love and...