La Jetée

La Jetée ★★★★½

A brooding, solemn voiceover informs us that this is a story about a man marked by an image in his childhood. A trail of violence spread across time that would become a defining moment in mankind's existence.

This post apocalyptic vision of a dystopian Europe is starkly brought to life through Chris Marker's photographic lens. Comprised solely of gothically lit shots it often feels like a doorway to a ghostly world has been captured on 35mm film. Mysteries lay in the dark depths of the shadows surrounding our hero as he dips back and forth in time, finding reconciliation with a face he once knew but cannot remember.

Memory and time are the central themes of the story and the composition of the stills lend this an ageless feel. By using photography Marker takes those moments of recollection out of the air freezing those seconds as the mind tends to. There are no markings of the decade in which it was shot, nothing that will degenerate its impact over time. If anything, it feels like a newsreel of a time that once existed carrying a message still relevant today.

Most famously this inspired Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys and you can be sure that it was the source for countless others. Five decades on and its storyboard approach carries a heavier weight than many of the multimillion pound excuses for science fiction thrust upon us today.

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