Augmented reality. Day 11. ”La Jetée”


”La Jetée” (1962) is a very unusual project. It is…

…a photo novel  – a science fiction short film made almost entirely in still photographs. 29 minutes of brain-penetrating painful stills.

…a dystopian science fiction movie made by Chris Marker, a French director whose career spanned for 5 decades and his most notable work were documentary essays, not feature films – let alone science fiction. Yet ”La Jetée” was interconnected with his later works in terms of the spirit.

…incredibly long-lived for a film with such an unusual form – no action, no stars and no actual video – that directly inspired one of the best Terry Gilliam’s films ”12 Monkeys”. Yes, the time when Hollywood still had the guts of making these kind of weird ‘remakes’.

…a grim philosophical story about human perception of things and memory, madness, love, time interchangeability and bleakness.

”The victors stood guard over an empire of rats.”

What I liked. ”La Jetée” is a very concise, minimally expressive and finished work. The photography is excellent (Marker comes from a photography and journalism background), creating some images that will eat into your perception. The concept and story are original. It is a dark fantasy about our memory, perception and senses. How it is impossible to escape the time, literally and figuratively. The whole story is followed by a narrator’s cold voice.

What I didn’t like. With all my love for original projects at times I felt that the concept and the form at times prevail over the story and the characters. ”La Jetée” sags in the middle part, where love story’s photographs become a little repetitive and Héléne Chatelain (it was her only role ever, by the way, later she turned to directing) was not totally convincing. Whatever. ”La Jetée” has already reached a cult status and is considered to be a masterpiece among philosophers, intellectuals (to whom I obviously don’t belong) and is demonstrated in film schools. It deserves it. 

The plot. I’d rather just share a few quotes from the script.

”And sometime after came the destruction of Paris.

Many died. Some believed themselves to be victors. Others were taken prisoner. The survivors settled beneath Chaillot, in an underground network of galleries.

Above ground, Paris, as most of the world, was uninhabitable, riddled with radioactivity.

The victors stood guard over an empire of rats.

The prisoners were subjected to experiments, apparently of great concern to those who conducted them.

The outcome was a disappointment for some – death for others – and for others yet, madness.

One day they came to select a new guinea pig from among the prisoners.

He was the man whose story we are telling.

He was frightened. He had heard about the Head Experimenter. He was prepared to meet Dr. Frankenstein, or the Mad Scientist. Instead, he met a reasonable man who explained calmly that the human race was doomed. Space was off-limits. The only hope for survival lay in Time. A loophole in Time, and then maybe it would be possible to reach food, medicine, sources of energy.”

Worth watching? Yes. Because…

”…nothing distinguishes memories from ordinary moments. Only later do they become memorable by the scars they leave.”


P. S. Apart from the obvious plot resemblances with ”12 Monkeys”, there were some curious visual similarities of some characters too.

Few other good articles about the film here and here.



8 thoughts on “Augmented reality. Day 11. ”La Jetée”

  1. This looks very good, and very unnerving at the same time as well. Some of the images, really look quite dark, which I always like. The movie 12 Monkeys was one of those terrific films, that stays in your mind. I actually really enjoy the tv series of 12 Monkeys, something I did not expect to happen if I am being honest. It’s certainly worth checking out 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really? I will definitely have a look. Thanks Raistlin! It’s always tough for me to find good sci-fi series that are not sy-fy-like…
      If you found that terrific, check out La Jetee – it’s just 29 min and is good to challejge yourself as a viewer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, will certainly do that 😊 Yeah there are so many tv series out there at the moment, but it’s sometimes tough to find good ones. Another tv series that I highly enjoyed and was also sci-fi was Fringe. If you haven’t seen that one I highly recommend it. It’s very cool 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm, let’s see. There is ofcourse Lost, but that one you might have seen as it’s a somewhat older show now (but still incredibly good). The Expanse is a new series but very interesting, Babylon 5 (old, but also very, very good), the Sarah Connor Chronicles.


      • Yeah, Lost was my first TV series! 🙂 The Expanse was interesting indeed, I watched it a little. Others two not yet. Sometimes I find it hard to watch TV series because often they are way tok diluted… 😦


  2. Hey thanks for the linkage Mr Bobinsky. It’s a true wonder, i was totally mesmerised and immersed the whole 30 mins. The beautiful love story across time, future and past.
    Did you notice the one moving image? Quite stunning.
    Superb article, superb film.
    Many thanks… All the best…. Wolfie

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.