La Jetée, 1962, is a black and white French science fiction film, constructed almost entirely from still frames. The 28-minute short film is set in a post-apocalyptic, near-future setting at the aftermath of World War III in Paris. Themes of perpetual memory are explored through the act of time travel. Time, therefore is non-linear and rather in a state of flux. (Norman Rodowick, 1997)
The montage of still images replicates the gaps in ones’ ability to recollect memory. The illusion of cinematic movement is achieved through post production stages of editing. Slow dissolves and moving out transitions are seen prominently throughout the film to evoke rhythm, temporality and provoke the feelings of time lapse. Sound effects also plays a key role in Chris Marker’s film, where it enriches the sense of movement.
The unnamed main character’s use of direct speech is non-existent and hence makes the audience see them as lifeless and detached from present. Moreover, they are paused in time. In an empty space between reality and science… A lacuna.
La Jetée’s investigation into memory’s fragility and unpredictability is successful, even though its execution is outdated in a contemporary context. The audience are trapped in the immobility of the images, much like the characters being trapped in time in the film.
After being exposed to Le Jetée, we were influenced to produce a short montage within an hour time restraint. Our group were inspired by the lyrics of Courtney Barnett’s song Avant Gardener. Our concept stemmed from her words “I sleep in late, another day, oh what a wonder, oh what a waste. It’s a Monday, it’s so mundane.” We produced a series of 15 photographs where we depicted the act of sleeping in an unusual garden environment. The photographs we created were witty and unrealistic, however abstracted the themes explored in the song.
We edited the photographs and rotated images to generate interest and intrigue. The desaturation of reds and blues combined with an increase of greens in each photograph created a certain tone for our final outcome. Set at two seconds apart, the montage is displayed with a voice over narration of Barnett’s song. We didn’t want to be too obvious and literal in our visual representation of the song, so we decided to produce a coherent set of images, where the audience can make their own interpretations out of it.
Lamos Ignoramous 2017, Chris Marker’s La Jetee Analysis: Morality and the Illusion of Time, viewed 16 March 2017,
Norman Rodowick, D. 1997, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, Duke University Press.