Thursday, 12 January 2017

Review: La Jetee by Chris Marker (1966)

La Jetee is a 28 minute short science-fiction film made by Chris Marker in 1966. The film is entirely made up of still images, with the exception of one 2 second clip towards the end of the film. Although the film is made of still images it still manages to keep the audience captivated with its story line and commentary over the top. The commentary tells the audience a story that began at an airport a couple of years before World War 2. A story of a post-apocalyptic world where humans are kept as prisoners and are used for experiments for time travel. We as an audience are presented with images that are from the past, along with an image of a woman, environment and the story of a man that is being experimented on. ''So it's a science-fictional hypothesis that underpins the organization of this film and with particular emphases (the distance of the narrator, the modesty of the novelist), regulates the metaphysical problems that are rapidly elaborated into a science-fictional argument in such a way as to render the paradoxes of lived time with the exteriority of an implacable syllogism. The syllogism is what leads the living human to meet his death, a death whose image is his secret.'' (Schefer, 1990). 

The use of still images within the film brings a sense of the audience being trapped within the images, perhaps even trapped in time, like the characters within the film. The cinematography is extremely static which is unlike many other experimental films. The film plays with the illusion and feeling of time lapse, it also plays with movement and how it it received by the characters along with the audience watching. ''The human brain forgets the cuts, Michel Gondry said about the film. And just like Michael Haneke calls the 24 frames in each cinema second ''24 lies,'' Chris Marker emphasizes the false perception of film movement by simply slowing down the pace of the still images.'' (Ignoramous, 2016). 

The use of quick and slow zooms, along with fade in and outs create this sense of movement throughout the film. The stills create a great visualisation of the story for the audience and really create tension and a feeling of 'what will happen next'. For example, when the man is having the experiment done on him, we are presented with very static images of him screaming in pain, and we wonder if he will come out of it okay, unlike the previous man before him. Furthermore, at the beginning we are presented with a shot of the airport, with an extreme zoom on it. This creates a sense of movement, even though the image is completely still.

The science fiction nature of the film is feeding our curiosity, and making us wonder what really would happen in a post-apocalyptic situation. We are presented with ideas we are familiar with, such as time travel, making us truly believe the storyline.

The images themselves are very dramatic in nature. They have extreme contrast within them with a lot of darkness. We are presented with close shots of the characters faces, allowing us t see their facial expressions even though they are not moving. The emotion and feel is easily put across to the audienc by this.


Ignoramous, L. (2016) Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Mortality and the Illusion of Time. Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2017)

Schefer, J.-L. (2017) On la Jetée by Jean-Louis Schefer ~ Chris marker. Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2017)


Vimeo (2016) Videos about ‘la jetee’ on Vimeo. Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2017)

Michael_Henley (2011) La Jetée (1962). Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2017)

1 comment:

  1. "The use of still images within the film brings a sense of the audience being trapped within the images, perhaps even trapped in time, like the characters within the film" - nice!

    Interesting review Polly :)