Thursday, 19 January 2017

"La Jetee" review

In 1961 Chris Marker filmed one of his the most famous films called „La Jetee”, which has very interesting and especially nowadays relevant theme – time travelling. The whole process of time travel on its own is rather complex for understanding. So filmmakers have to think hard about every little detail in their movies if they want their characters to go back in time. „La Jetee” was made in the genre in which it is impossible to talk about the good or bad end. However, as Dmitry Savochkin(2007) points out, that sometimes ”it does not matter at all what is told us, what actually matters is how it is done and what is the meaning of all this.

To tell its story „La Jetee” used a specific storytelling genre called photonovel. This film is the opposite of silent movies, where all action are frozen in the photographs, and where everything that is happening on the screen explains by a composed voice-over. ”Just like the characters in La Jetee are trapped in time, the audience of La Jetee is trapped in the stillness of the images. ”(Lamos Ignoramous) Moreover it is also a short-length film and does not have a huge budget. Film „La Jetee” is a kind of experiment, because as film critic Dmitry Rancev(2013) said, "Chris Marker took an unknown path" when he filmed it. And for all that, this experiment was a success, and it even served as an example for various future films with the same theme. Vladimir Gordeev(2009) says that “many writers were inspired by„La Jetee”, who in the 60s discovered a new style called "cyberpunk".

In „La Jetee” the main protagonist, living in post-world war III period, goes back in time using his memories.(see fig. 1)
Figure 1. Main protagonist travelling through time using his memories (2012)

This process is painful and imprecise, and it also is very hard for the human brain to overcome it. And in that case, photonovel genre very suits it, because it adds more realism. During time travelling he can’t see completely clear moments of the past, instead of it the main protagonist can only see fast moments, still images of events that happened. But there is a particular moment, which is a contrast to the whole film – a girl, who was a love interest of the main protagonist in the past, opening her eyes and blinking. Maybe at that moment, the brain overcomes the time.(see fig. 2)
Figure 2. The only movement in a film - girl blinking(2014)

With his movie Chris Marker stopped the image, he made a film into a photo exhibition, but in addition to that, Marker added music and monologue in the background. Music added a particular tension to the situation/events and monologue gave a groundbreaking meaning to the film.
Talking about music and sounds in „La Jetee”, they perfectly emphasise(highlight) events in a movie. Piotr Gontcharov’s solemn music of a liturgy(public worship) called „Кресту Твоему” by the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the beginning of the film shows us all the horror of the war, still photos of this horrible event together with this hard/heavy and serious music makes us feel all pain, sorrow and torture of people, who experienced it. (see fig. 3)
Figure 3. Triumphal arch in Paris is destroyed in consequence of world war III (2012)

1. Savochkin, D. (2007) Полоса света [In Russian] Runway of light. At: (Accessed on 17 January 2017) 
2. Ignoramous, L. Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Mortality and the Illusion of Time,, accessed on 17 January 2017.
3. Rancev, D. (2013) Возможность сновидения [In Russian] The ability to dream. At: (Accessed on 17 January 2017) 
4. Gordeev, V. (2009) Рецензия на фильм "Взлётная полоса" [In Russian] Review of the film "La Jetee" At: (Accessed on 17 January 2017) 
1. Figure 1. Benedict Seymour(2012)[Film Still], accessed on 17 January 2017.
2. Figure 2.Mathew Tudor(2014)[Film Still], accessed on 17 January 2017.
3. Figure 3.Robert Barry(2012)[Film Still], accessed on 17 January 2017.


  1. Interesting review, Anastasija :)

    Just a couple of thoughts from me... it's always good to have some sort of conclusion to your writing, rather than just coming to a sudden end. So, a bit of a round-up, maybe a nod towards other films that this one has influenced, for example.
    Also, do you think you could use a slightly less-heavy typeface? It gets quite tiring reading this bold one...
    All-in-all, very good though!

    1. Thanks you, Jackie! Will try to do that in my next ones!