Thursday, December 11, 2008

La Jetee

La Jetee is the story of the world in the aftermath of a worldwide nuclear war. Paris has been completely destroyed, and the story revolves around a group of scientists living underground, experimenting with time travel, for the only possibility of the continuation of existence lies in the ability to utilize the things necessary to life which now exist only in the past. It is a haunting and compelling story of the influence of memory and love, the self-destructiveness inherent in humanity contrasted with the power of the human will and imagination. However, what interests me most about the film is its brilliant use of still images, which has been the object of much critical analysis. Beyond what the film may be expressing in any thematic sense with regard to the ideas already mentioned, La Jetee deftly expresses the nature and potential of film. Composed almost entirely of still images, the film becomes something which is in direct contrast to the typical nature of the cinema. In one scene, we are presented with a series of images of a sleeping woman, which are indeed still images, but with the final image we see the flutter her eyelids, and she opens her eyes. This one, almost imperceptible movement, becomes utterly powerful amidst the panoply of still images preceding and proceeding it. The nature of the power of the cinema is manifested in this one, pointed, focused moment in the film. The film, with these still images, is also doing much toward its theme, with the one man on whom the scientists are experimenting being obsessed with one image from his past, and this obsession standing as the reason for the choice in using this man. The film revels in ideas of past imagery and memory, and in this sense is playing with these ideas through the still imagery. More interesting to me, however, are notions on film itself which these still images convey.

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