Sunday, 29 January 2017

La Jetee Review

La jetee
Figure 1

La Jetee (see fig 1) is a film by Chris Marker that focuses on a 'what if?' scenario of what would happen if world war 3 broke out, the film focuses the setting on Paris, France.

The film begins with a narrator reading the opening text, from there we are told about a man who dies in front of a child and then the city of paris is destroyed 'blown up' the narrator says.
Then we are in the ruins of paris, we are told about a plan made by scientists that means to send men back into the past to send supply lines back to the future, the protagonist who is sent back in time but falls in love with a woman and stays with her, in the end he is killed by the scientists and realises that he is the man who died in the beginning.

The film uses stills instead of full motion video to convey the story, often holding on one while exposition, dialogue or even empty silence plays out. That is until a specific scene where the protagonists lover opens her eyes. (see fig 2)

Figure 2

The film and Chris Marker himself is shrouded in mystery, having made dozens of films, some of which have become cult classics you would think he would hold some fame and yet very little is known about him.

"Marker (born Christian Francois Bouche-Villeneuve in 1921, either outside Paris, as many sources say, or in Ulan Bator, as the writer and director has claimed), has a godlike reputation among cinephiles, thanks both to the ingenious and often playful nature of his essayistic films (he's made dozens) and to his obscurity. He grants few interviews and almost never allows himself to be photographed. Only a fraction of his movies are available on DVD." (Lawrence Levi, 2009)

Mr Levi exclaims how even though Marker is well loved among his fans and "Cinephiles" which are lovers of film and cinema, he never gave much information about himself. Whether this was because of a love of mystery or a fear of what someone could do with that information is anyone's guess.

 "Marker began making 'La Jetee' at the end of France's eight-year war with Algeria, and was still working on it during the Cuban missile crisis. In the film, the merciless experimenters who rule the catacombs under Paris whisper in German (see fig 3), an echo of "Night and Fog," the remarkable 1955 Holocaust documentary by Alain Resnais that Marker helped write and edit." (Lawrence Levi, 2009)

Figure 3

It can be taken from this paragraph that Marker was placing his fears of the future into a film, all the collective fears from the people of paris about the ongoing wars and the aftermath of previous ones all put into a single film. Having used a reference to 'Night and Fog' it's possible that Marker assosiated this future with the fascist regime or thought of the current wars being created by the conflicts that occurred due to world war 2.

"The film achieves the feeling of movement and time lapse mainly through its editing. While Lars von Trier’s film Nymphomaniac captured the human condition in a single dissolve, La Jetee uses dissolves, fade-ins, and fade-outs to provoke the feeling of time lapse." (Lamos Ignoramous, 2017)
Mr Ignoramous explains how the film uses cinematography to achieve it's goals. The use of such transitions could be to not only show time lapsing but also how time works in this universe, the differences between how the transitions function between the "real" or "present" world and the "past" world.

Levi. L (2009) Chris Marker: La Jetée' by Janet Harbord at (accessed 24/01/2017)

Ignoramous. L (2017) Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Mortality and the Illusion of Time at (accessed 29/01/2017)

La Jetee (1962) Directed by Chris Marker [DVD] France Argos Films.


Figure 1 La Jetee Poster (1962) [Poster] France Argos Films

Figure 2 Film Still (1962) From La Jetee Directed by Chris Marker [Film Still] France Argos Films

Figure 3 Film Still (1962) From La Jetee Directed by Chris Marker [Film Still] France Argos Films


  1. Hi David,

    You have touched on some of the important aspects of this film, so that's a good start :)
    A couple of technical pointers - make sure that your quotes are in italics, and also the film names should also be italicised. For some reason, you seem to have aligned the quotes to the left? Just keep them aligned right, or justified (spread evenly over the line.) If it's a long quote (more than a couple of lines), you should indent it and have it separated from the body of the text, as you have done. If it is a short quote, you can keep it within the text. You only need the author's surname and date after the quote, not the full name, and when you refer to them in the text you don't need 'Mr', just the surname, so for example,
    'As Levi says...'

    1. Hey Jackie, when i googled "Indenting" for some reason what i was getting was people putting the text to the right instead of the left, i though that was how you indent, so that was my failed attempts at indenting text hehe.

      I'll remember what you said about the names for the future. Can we still have that private discussion?

    2. Hi David, yes of me on
      I am in again on Thursday (all day) and Friday morning...let me know when is good for you!