Chris Marker

Sog., Scen., F.: Chris Marker. M.: Jean Ravel. Scgf.: Jean-Pierre Suche. Mus.: Trevor Duncan. Su.: SIMO. Int.: Jean Négroni (narrator), Hélène Chatelain, Davos Hanich, Jacques Ledoux, André Heinrich, Jacques Branchu, Pierre Joffroy, Étienne Becker, Philbert von Lifchitz, Ligia Borowczyk, Janine Klein, Bill Klein, Germano Facetti. Prod.: Anatole Dauman per Argos Films. Pri. pro.: 21 marzo 1963. DCP. D.: 28’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

La Jetée is first of all a meditation on the concept of Time. A coherent meditation. The duration of time is something we experience, but the concept of Time is something we think about, as more than one philosopher has tried to convince us. […] If Time is Thought and Thought is Reason, than Language is surely the best vehicle for Time travel. When he was making La Jetée, Chris Marker was still first and foremost a verbal filmmaker. Words, for him, were paramount. They provided the unifying commentary to his images, giving them continuity, drama and definitive meaning. In this film, it is language which provides this element which is at once fantastic and so banal as to be easily overlooked that allows us to blend fantasy and reality, the impossible with the possible, the moment of uttering with all the dizzy deliriousness of the thing uttered. […] The editing of the images and dialogues in La Jetée plays with grammar tenses to play with Time, in an attempt to locate the time of the spirit and the time of the world. It uses a strange future perfect tense, a past future tense, to express what is to come that has already happened (since someone is telling it); the ‘innocence’ and ‘naturalness’, the readiness with which the past is still happening and the future, we discover, is already here and already finished, which means that we, the spectators of the apocalypse, are its survivors. […] La Jetée is a film composed, not of shots of unmoving images, but of a series of stills. In 1963 this was not a novel idea. Resnais, and later Marker, were finding their place amidst a movement – dealing with films about art – born in 1940, whose major proponent was the Italian filmmaker Luciano Emmer […]. The challenge of La Jetée lay in having cinema contradict itself by its own means, forcing the medium to overcome its limitations esthetically, acting cleverly, using its own codes, forcing it to negate its own essence only to then suddenly be vindicated in that magical moment which has made the film famous: a frame in movement! While cinema, traditionally, affirms, “this is how it is and how is to be,” and photography says, “this is how it was”, or “this is how it still is, but frozen in the vacuum of Time”, Marker’s film, with its voice-over commentary and the provocative immobility of its images, states, “This is how it is, how it will be and how it was” all at once.

Barthélemy Amengual, Le Présent du futur. Sur La Jetée, “Positif”, n. 433, March 1997

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