Tuesday, 22 February 2011

La Jetee (1962)

"A remarkable and unique experimental short that consists solely of still frames, narration, music and sound effects as it relates an apocalyptic tale of memory and time-travel." (TV Guide's Movie Guide,2007) La Jetee is not your typical film. The way the beautiful naturalistic photographed stills, narration music and sound were used in a similar way to moving film but gaps had to be filled in because of the absence of movement. The narration spoke for the character and moved the story on so it could be understood al most like being read a picture book. The music was still used to build tension particularly when the editing became faster as the prisoner was struggling in the hammock and the pace of the editing sped up as the heart beats quickened. The way the story is edited it is still possible to make sense from the stills with a bit of narration in the same way a film would be story boarded. The way the frames are transition varies between a jump cut and a fading transition, when the mood of the film is softer the transitions tend to be slower for example when the woman is sleeping, and the jump cuts for more tense moments like conveying the torture of the prisoner. The music plays a key role in setting the mood of the scenes when the narration take a pause for a few moments. Also there is a ghostly whisper (sounding like German) that is used in the to create an uneasy felling within the scenes of the experiment in the lab.

Still 1

"The only fictional work of experimental filmmaker and documentary-maker Marker, this is an elegantly constructed riddle, with a puchline that is as satisfying as it is chilling." (Film 4, 2007) The twist ending of the film is the true horror of this film and it is certainly a chilling thought to be caught in this continuous loop as the story takes a full circle back to the shooting on the pier. Repeated frames of close ups of the woman's expression of horror are repeated to flash back the horror from the beginning of the film. It is also emotionally powerful as the audience has more understanding about his fate than he does but it is in the end inevitable.

Opening Shot of the pier, La Jetee meaning ' the pier' in French
The Prisoner being shot.

A lot of the most powerful images are of the close-up's of the characters faces at moments they are capturing moments of emotion which become haunting seeing them traped in that still frame. Moments when the prisoner is in the hammock these still become more frequent as his head moves almost animating his pain and suffering in quicker editing making the impact stronger. The image of the bandages over his eyes is in itself a disturbing image and this a highly repetitive shot trough out the film, this focuses the audiences attention around the prisoner inviting them to sympathise with this character because of the close up shot.
 "I find it tediously pretentious, but there are striking images in it, and it does get across a vague impression of Frankensteinian meddling with the brain." (Crowther, B, 2005) The film makes reference to Dr. Frankenstein and its story subtly echoes its science experimentation themes tampering with the human body and defy nature itself.

The Prisoner being experimented on.


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