La Jetee is probably the most unusual movie I’ve seen so far. I’m not even sure if this should even be treated as a movie at all. At first I thought it was a historical documentary because of the way it was presented. It’s basically just a slideshow of black and white pictures with a voice-over that narrates its story. As an average film viewer, La Jetee is definitely not a comfortable movie to watch.
The movie belongs to the science-fiction genre. It tackles the subject of time-travel in a post-apocalyptic world where men from the present needs to get help from their past or future to solve their problems. The hero of the movie is the number one candidate of scientists in their experiment to send someone to time travel. The hero time travels, he meets a woman who he falls in love with and he fights for his love against the scientists that wants him to complete his mission. In the end, the character revisits his peculiar memory in his childhood, which is actually the first scene in the film. However, I must admit that I didn’t really understand the movie while I was watching it in class. Besides, I’m paying more attention to the presentation style of the movie rather than its story.
The La Jetee’s narration is one of the things I find interesting with the movie. The narrator uses a monotonic voice in telling the story. The narrator does not communicate any emotion as he reveals the story as if he’s only reading a script without any form of connection at all with the hero. This gave me the feeling that the narrator simply analyzes the story and he distances himself from it just like an observer coming from the third person’s point of view. This effect made the film more documentary-like for me since the only way for me to get the story is through an omniscient narrator.
Aside from the voice-over, the use of slideshow as visuals makes La Jetee a very unusual film. Coupled with the monotonic voice-over, the slideshow makes the movie look as if it’s a presentation or a report being given by someone who knows the story. The slideshow is just a sequence of pictures that are related to the story being narrated. Personally, I think the slideshow is not a necessary component for telling the story. Although it helps in adding symbolism to the film, I think its main purpose is to help in creating the atmosphere for the plot. The use of black and white pictures, for instance, creates the gloomy post-apocalyptic aura in which the world seems to have lost its color as it slowly decays as a result of the war.
In terms of character, I think there is little character development in the film at all. However, I think it is necessary for it to be like that since documentaries similar to La Jetee have no character development at all. Or, maybe I just wasn’t able to fully understand the story to begin with.
Overall, I think this movie exceptionally exemplifies the effects of visuals and sounds in creating the atmosphere of the film. It may be boring and hard to understand, but it still is one of the most creative and innovative films I watched in my entire life.