Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Cutting Edges 1: 'La Jetée (1962)' Review

Fig.1. 'La Jetée' Poster

'La Jetée' (1962), directed by Chris Marker, is a a snapshot movie comprised of individual components all working together to create a short, 28 minute film, that has inspired directors across the globe to use sound and image in simple yet smart ways.

Fig.2. Film Still

Narrated from start to finish, we see the life of character, Davos Hanich, play out upon the screen. As a little boy he witnesses an incident, an incident that occurs within an airport, unknown to him this would one day be a moment in his life that he would play both audience and cast member to. His own death. Throughout the duration of the film Marker very rarely uses a loud or epic soundtrack. 'The soundtrack's texture is similarly sparse, and the fluid montage leads the viewer into the sensation of watching moving images' (Time Out, S.D) 
The way in which the director uses sound is very smart, it's not forced upon you, it's welcomed gently as the narrator finishes his sentences. From slow humming within futuristic scenes, to simple diegetic sounds such as whispering or footsteps of characters, the way that sound is used effective yet gentle.

Fig.3. Film Still 

'Nine years before Hollis Frampton's Nostalgia and Poetic Justice used still images to examine the question of cinema temporality, Chris Marker composed La Jetée (1962) almost entirely of still shots' (Filmslie, S.D) This unique use of still shots as opposed to moving video is what helps to make 'La Jetée' stand out. You could say that Chris Marker is more of a film artist than he is a director. Each shot is used perfectly to show the viewer exactly what is happening within the characters life, like pictures in a scrapbook, narrated and told like a bedtime story to the viewer.

The duration of the film is representative of it's content, it's minimal and not crammed with shots that aren't useful to push forward the plot of the film, this is what makes it easy to watch and a change to most early films and even films of today. 'It's an astounding example of what you can do as a filmmaker once you have a great story. Without special effects, the visuals are entirely crafted out of still images. (Samuel, 2013) The lack of visual effects but strong use of storytelling through perfectly shot black and white images is what carries this film as a masterpiece of film making. 


Filmslie, S.D 'Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Mortality and the Illusion of Time' At:http://filmslie.com/chris-marker-la-jetee-analysis-temporality/ Accessed on: 5-1-2016

Samuel, P. (2013) 'La Jetée' At: http://staticmass.net/world/la-jetee-1962-review/ Accessed on: 5-1-2016

Time Out, S.D 'La Jetée' At: http://www.timeout.com/london/film/la-jetee Accessed on: 5-1-2016


Figure.1 'La Jetée' (1962) Poster At: http://www.quixote.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/La+Jetee+Poster.jpg Accessed on: 5-1-2016

Figure.2 [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iw9GzcmzJxE/UCKL6ZuqcUI/AAAAAAAAF_s/8vXKVmru3Rw/s1600/jetty4.png Accessed on: 5-1-2016

Figure.3 [Film Still] At: http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/features/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/la-jetee-orly.jpg Accessed on: 5-1-2016


  1. Short and sweet, Tom :)
    Excellent discussion around the use of sound...