La Jetée

La Jetée ★★★★½

Even after half a decade, Chris Marker's experimental science-fiction short La jetee is still a wonder to behold. Composed mostly out of gorgeous black-and-white still photographs, minuscule sound effects and foreboding narration, it holds the unofficial record of creating a fully immersive and frightening post-World War III enviornment in the shortest amount of time, which for me is no small feat. If that wasn't enough, Marker manages to provide room to spin a time-travel yarn deftly soaked in romance, making the short all the more mind-blowing. It's one of the small miracles of cinema, and one that should be further noted in the pages of film history.

But to be honest, it's easy to think that the average person would balk at a black-and white short film told only with photos and a cryptic narrator, which is depressing within itself. What's even worse is that I have not yet encountered another film made this way on all the Internet video platforms we have today, which you would think provide outlets for those who appreciate and desire to emulate such an inventive structure of filmmaking. But nope, we get endless upon endless videos of people using their editing software to match clips of their favorite sitcoms and cartoons to an insipid song on the radio. Terrific.

Chris Marker was ahead of his time, and it looks like the times that came after it were sadly not inspired by such artistic brilliance present in La jetee. Even more frustrating, it looks like the only taste that most people will get from it is in the form of a failed attempt to stretch the short's story out into feature-length by a Hollywood-leashed Terry Gilliam. It's a shame, really, but at least we can giggle in irony at how a 127-minute big-budget film didn't even come close to what a 27-minute film did over thirty years ago with so little. In terms of artistic success, Marker is clearly the winner.

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