In an era of motion pictures and fast paced living, it is hard to find a film like La Jetee. this documentary style film about time travel was quite the shocker. It delivers the message without sacrificing its artistic rights. I found the film so beautiful in the way it can talk about the fluidity and motion of time in still moments, in still photographs. The photographs themselves were shot so well and the black and white effect gave the film a timeless quality.
La Jetee is the French word for the jetty. It is entitled as such because the last scene is the airport where the main character is killed. There is something about being able to move across the dimension of time that unnerves people. It gives them a false sense of power and security as they have the device to correct mistakes, meet people they’ve left behind and start all over again.
This is what happened in the film. The main character travels through time in order to fulfil a mission. Instead he finds a woman and falls in love with her. In the end, his belief that he could not be touched in the past led to his demise. The death he saw as a child was his own. This movie does not end in full circle but instead it spirals inward, toward its core.
In the aesthetic sense, the film was strikingly unforgettable as black and white stills tell a story of love lost and lives intertwining through the fabric of time. The slideshow gave the film a sense of reality. As if the narrator is speaking of something true and factual. The opening part has the narrator talking matter-of-factly. In a dead, monotonous tone devoid of emotion as he recounts the past events that wracked a nation’s core leaving its citizens poor and hungry. In a way the film blurs the line between reality and fiction. It was quite brilliant how they took something of the science fiction genre and integrated it in a documentary-like package.
The blurring of lines between reality and fiction is what makes the film so unique and unforgettable. Aptly named as the number one time travel film by Time magazine, the film makes an indelible mark on the audience because it goes beyond the usual love story and the usual science fiction story.
Keeping everything else to a bare minimum, the film strives to tell more than it portrays. Despite the lack of a soundtrack or colours, it was still able to leave the audience in awed amazement at how the story unfolded through photos and narration. It was almost like a storybook flashed onscreen.
The realization that the death the man witnessed as a child was his own showed the film’s devotion to the story. With a complicated idea like that, it would have been typical to relay that information through moving pictures that showcase the movements of the characters. Leaving the characters nameless detaches the audience from the people in the film. In a way, it heightens the realistic quality of it as some documentaries have anonymous people giving them vital information.
La Jetee is one of the films that has changed my love for black and white scenes. It does not disappoint with its artistic portrayal. It is unforgettable since this is the only film I’ve watched shot in this way.