La Jetee, The Film, The Book, The Implications


la jetee, a photo of the book of the film
Remember 12 Monkeys with Brad Pitt? That movie was based on La Jetee, a thirty minute film made in 1962 by Chris Marker, a grainy black and white film set in post-apocalyptic Paris. That La Jetee has been a perpetual entry in best film lists ever since is all the more remarkable given it only contains a few seconds of actual motion, the rest comprising of grainy black and white photos of underground Paris, some background music, occasional sound effects, and Marker’s evocative, tightly scripted narration. Aside from the film’s inspiring execution though, it resonates today for other many other reasons:

– The implications for DIY film-making ( ideas are more important than budgets – spend more time developing and refining ideas)
– It reminds, that in the end, technology is the easy part.
– The right text can wonderfully frame and transform images. ( And what does this mean for websites, let alone films? )
– If a film like La Jetee is possible with a hand-held still camera in 1962, what is possible with today’s technology? ( Or – what would a young Chris Marker be making with our abundance of portable recording devices, which are often net-connected, location aware, and without the processing costs of film? )

And sure, it resonates because I bought La Jetee the book recently, after spotting it on a shelf – a film as book – savour the story and cinematography at whatever pace, or in whatever sequence you prefer. ( Available via MIT Press )

“This book version of La Jetée is, to my mind, astonishingly beautiful. It brings a total freshness to the work and a new way to use photos to deal with dramatic events. Not a film’s book, but a book in its own right—the real ciné-roman announced in the film’s credits.”

—Chris Marker

Read about it @ wikipedia
Watch the film in lo-res ( le horreur! ) on youtube
Watch the film of the book of the film

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