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Sunday, March 14, 2010

La Jetée (1962) by Chris Marker

La jetée (English: The Jetty or 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. The film won the Prix Jean Vigo for short film. Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys (1995) was inspired by, and takes several concepts directly from, La jetée.

PLOT (Includes Spoilers): The survivors of a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris in the aftermath of the Third World War live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. They research time travel, hoping to send test subjects to different time periods "to call past and future to the rescue of the present". They have difficulty finding subjects who can mentally withstand the shock of time travel, but eventually settle upon a male prisoner whose 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 the key to his journey back in time.

He is thrown back to the past again and again to a time before the war, when he had been a child. He repeatedly meets and speaks to the woman from his memory, who was present at the terminal. After his successful passages to the past, the experimenters attempt to send him into the far 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. Upon his return, with his mission accomplished, he discerns that he is to be executed by his jailers. He is contacted by the people of the future, who offer to help him escape to their time, but he asks to be instead returned to the pre-war time of his childhood, hoping to again find the woman. He is returned and does find her, but an agent of his jailers has followed. The man finds that the violent incident he partially witnessed as a child was his own death as an adult at the hands of the agent.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Jet%C3%A9e

La Jetee (in French with Spanish subtitles:






A Documentary about Chris Marker:




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