La Jetée is definitely one of the most unforgettable films that I’ve ever seen. When I first watched it, it left me speechless in awe and was surprised on how it was intricately done by Chris Marker. From being a photo-documentary science fiction film that greatly talks about time travelling, the past and the future, and humanity, this film is truly remarkable.
The film’s social milieu was during a post World War III underground network of Palais de Chaillot galleries in Paris, France where people are now in the midst of extinction if a possible solution to their crisis cannot be answered immediately. They are now totally depending on the technology of time travelling to find help from the past and the future which is a very desperate attempt. People are now going in the means of using human test subjects as both sacrifice and unsung heroes (if succeeded), forced to follow their superiors beyond their will for the common people to survive. With this, we must try to reflect the moral grounds being questioned and challenged by the film. The film establishes the relationships of the Time Traveler to his superiors / scientists, the woman, the people from the future, and to himself. Almost all relationships established are mysterious, suspicious, awkward, and with tension or stress because of the plot conflict.
I personally liked the technicalities of the film and how it was executed. The film is made out of entirely optically printed still photographs shot in black and white (from a Pentax Spotmatic) playing in a photomontage sequence of varying pace. A 35mm Arriflex camera was briefly used in the scene of Hélène Chatelain in bed to show a motion-picture effect (the only scene throughout the entire film), this greatly showing the fleeting memory of the Time Traveler and what he momentarily sees as something true. The only thing what is real to him in his whole life. There is no dialogue whatsoever, but only a voice-over from a narrator (voices of Jean Négroni in the original French version and Chris Marker in the English version of the film), stock music from Trevor Duncan and some random murmurings in German. With that, the film paved way for the career of Chris Marker as both director and artist, revolutionized the film industry in France since the concept was very original and highly praised, and the way the character of the time traveler was portrayed to tell a dramatic and tragic story.
In a science-fiction and drama genre, the movie went further in challenging the conventions of motion picture by narrating the story in a photo-montage / photo-essay form, emphasizing every photograph and highlighting the emotions, mood, impact, and theme of the story.
Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scars. That face he had seen was to be the only peacetime image to survive the war. Had he really seen it? Or had he invented that tender moment to prop up the madness to come?