La Jetée

Note: The following contains spoilers.

I found this short film and its unconventional storytelling methods very thought-provoking – I can’t say I’ve ever seen another film (except perhaps some documentaries/presentations) that told a fictional/created story entirely (or even primarily) through still photos. The plot of the story is one that I find fascinating as well – I am still awestruck (mostly in a negative way) on a regular basis (especially being at a place like MIT that is steeped in high technology)  at the fact that humanity can literally obliterate itself at literally the push of a few buttons. This simple, terrifying, tragic idea is the underpinning upon which this film (and, come to think of it, the majority of the last 60 years of international relations) is built, and I think that is worth keeping in mind.

As to the actual medium through which the story is conveyed, I’ll admit that I got a little lost in the middle of the film and that I wasn’t really sure where it was trying to take me. However, still photos convey depth of detail and emotion in a subtly different way than do moving images. We have time to analyze and react to every single frame. In a movie, if I see a character in pain (as the main character here was when he was being injected with time travel chemicals), I see it dynamically, evolving over time. Here, we see a snapshot, a frozen image that allows us to see and witness, for an extended period of time, the wrinkles in the man’s face, the agonized expression as he is shot at the end. It let’s us analyze a scene that is conveniently static, to process what is going on at a particular instant and to let it truly sink in, which is a rather foreign experience when compared to our daily lives or scenes in videos.

To me, this medium of conveying the story, with its many opportunities for thorough examination of each scene, ultimately offers a significant contrast with the way the film ends – with the main character unceremoniously witnessing his own death and seemingly being condemned to live in an arduously repetitive and radioactive shell of a world.


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