What makes something believable?

As I watched La Jetée, it struck me how much I believed the film. Of course, Paris has not been blown up and World War III hasn’t happened, but there was something about it that made it different than normal fiction. After a lot of thought, I think I’ve found the connection. In my experience, I’ve been only exposed to this manner of story telling (black and white image after image with narration) within a documentary on historical events. Rather than exaggeration or superfluous fluff, the story was told like a series of memories.

Take this image for example. It brings to mind the question of “when you think of someone you love, what is it you think of?” Some people think of how the other person made them feel, others think about the small actions — like how they bite their bottom lip when thinking hard or how they move and dance when they think no one is looking. To me each picture is a snapshot meant to emphasize memory. The happier of times is far brighter and less contrasted, where the “present” is dark and shrouded in whispered mysteries.

During the death scene, the fast paced changing of images reminded me of how people perceive death. As you face it, your mind races, thinking of situation after situation. Then, as the man dies, everything is still and it is done. In some sense, this style allowed me to project my experience with memories and stories onto this story. Perhaps this relatability is what made it so believable.


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