La Jetee was good, but you had to admit that it was quite artsy. It was supposedly about World War III and a sort of memory slash time travel combination where he gets to meet himself at the end of the movie. And it was delivered in still pictures, and in black and white, which was quite puzzling; isn’t this period the burgeoning of cinema, after having been stuck in silent films for so long?
A possible explanation which makes sense to me is that the nature of the plot made it more convenient to use still pictures. Staging a World War III would cost too much, in the context of a short film. Thus still pictures would make it easier for them to manipulate as much as they wanted. In addition to this, the audio dealt with quick cuts; with scenes quick to change and transition. Consider me an amateur but I don’t really buy it when the director is lauded for having have left the thinking to the imagination of the audience. They filmed it, and this is how it turned out. Not to mention that the only video we see is that of the woman lying in bed, eyes blinking. Interesting a premise as it has, it looks artsy as hell. La Jetee is a movie best left to the curious, and the critics.
Unlike other films which we have watched for film class, it could be said that Primer does not rely much on the visual aspect, but rather focuses mainly (if not solely) on the narrative in order to deliver its message. This, in my opinion, is both its strength and its weakness.
There are no special camera tricks here, or fancy symbolisms worth overanalyzing; rather, it is purely straightforward science fiction all throughout. From what I understood from the film, scientists accidentally invent a time travelling device, and use said machine to their advantage; whether going back to the past in order to manipulate the stock market, sports bet on March madness, or unentangle the many consequences of their actions along the way. Though the premise holds much promise, its execution on the screen I found to be honestly dry and uninteresting.
For me, there was nothing to look forward to. There was initial curiousity upon the accidental discovery of time travel, but it loses its appeal early on, probably due to the drawn out story telling or the unrelatable main characters. Cold and distant, you couldn’t really sympathize with them for anything. Unlike perhaps Einstein, Hawking, and other scientists; whose scientific endeavours were probably boring as well, but with their stories romanticized, you just can’t help but love those intelligent bastards. On the contrary, I actually sympathized with my other film classmates, whom I noticed were either sleeping or just plain bored.
I couldnt help but feel that Primer’s objective was to deliberately distance itself from the common audience. Its overly technical and esoteric first act had me uninterested from the start.
It left me scratching my head in more ways than one. For me, there are many films which are similar in nature but have managed to captivate: with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Vanilla Sky, for instance, among them. I am not saying that films have to be entertaining, nor should the director make it easier for the audience to digest; if that is how he truly gets his message across, then so be it. But if films do have a message to convey, then I was wondering what message this story has and to what audience it is intended for. It has to be lauded for its accuracy, for showing the realism behind scientific endeavours; but then again, we don’t watch House, MD in order to learn more fancy medical terms. I would give it another chance, in that perhaps numerous viewings are required in order to even get what was happening in the story; but the mere thought of watching it again already has me tired and running for the exit. Primer is admirable; who am i to disagree with critics, but I found its dryness to be unwatchable. Though I like the idea and the premise of the movie, its execution leaves much to be desired. Perhaps I would take a degree in the sciences before watching it again; those without science degrees need not apply.