Friday, 8 January 2016

'La Jetee 1962' Accepting the Inevitable 08/01/2016

Figure 1: La Jettee Poster
This film review will focus on how the sound in this film contributes to what is happening in this film, as well as the art style for the film and why the film is almost entirely comprised of still images. The film was made in 1963, produced by 'Anatole Dauman', directed by 'Chris Marker' and the score for the film was done by 'Trevor Duncan'. The plot for this film is actually quite an interesting one, it may have even been the first of its kind giving the audience a serious headache as in "What just happened?". The beginning of the film is actually the end of the film, but this detail is done so suddenly and out of place that this goes almost unnoticed which gives a really good effect for the end of the film, almost as if the film is some sort of a jigsaw, at the end if you can piece it all together, it all makes sense. The film is widely known for the fact that is deals with the concept of time travel and its outcomes, showing that sometime you have to accept the inevitable.
"One of the best of all SF films is this haunting, apocalyptic 27-minute French short by the great Chris Marker." (J Rosenbaum. 2007)
Figure 2: Paris
The first point to be made about this film is its art style, you would think the film was made in the 1920's with a severely small budget because of the way the film is shown. The entire film consists of a narrator, some pictures and a lovely soundtrack. Colour was also available to be used in film at the time as well so one odd design choice when Chris Marker made the film, or so it seems. When this concept of still images is looked into a little bit you can start to understand why the film is made up of all still images, apart from a single scene for about six seconds. The plot of the story in a nutshell is this, a woman watches a man die, WWIII has happened, freaky time travel experiments have happened, a hero is sent back in time to see someone he loves, the guy who died earlier is the hero, the entire film is a time loop THE END. So as we can tell from the plot, its basic but well executed. The reason being is because our hero has been sent through this very restricted route back in time he cannot remember or do much similar to lucid dreaming. Over time as you learn more about lucid dreaming and practising it, apparently you can then have complete control over your dreams, same as the experiments. Over time out hero grows, adapts and gets used to these experiments, notice how one of the last times he uses the time travel experiment he is able to walk around a zoo supposedly freely, but the only shot that can be confirmed that he has 100% control over is a shot of the female blinking her eyes in a bed."Marker's vision is terrifying in its mixture of ruined symmetry and a sickening moral blackness, the general silence punctuated by impenetrable whispers and noises - this is one of the most frightening soundtracks I've ever heard. This medievalism also means a bypassing of the intellect, of literal Enlightenment, and back to a kind of spiritual murk, with pastiche sacred music flooding the film, and parodies of religious kitsch obtruding (the godlike light seeping into dense interiors; religious slogans; the compositions of survivors like beatified saints) on the relics of civilisation, the graffiti, the now-impenetrable codes" (A Liddel. 2000) Every single shot up to this point has been still images except for this one, why? because at that moment he has 100% control, he is doing what he wants. In the last few moments our Hero runs to the end of the pier to meet the girl only to discover he is now trapped in an infinite time loop of death forever, that's why the last scene is still pictures and not a film, because he is being played. When there film is in still pictures we are seeing the hero's time loop trap, but the one scene where he is free and happy, that's when the film plays. Having the film in black and white as well symbolically works quite well with this particular scenario, time is sharing its secrets with us but it does not want to show us its harsh truths. Artisticly the harsh blacks and whites do make some of the interior scenes a little more scary but they could have done much more here, even some animation or effect may have helped this film a little.

Figure 3: Hero
The sound design and music for the film are surprisingly good, even the narrators voice is also well suited for the film. The main sound is a mixture of what sound like either a heartbeat or footsteps, the reason for this sound being so distinct, what does a heartbeat represent? It can represent tension rising, fear and anxiety. Footsteps usually indicate that something is coming towards to you or something is coming, this sound only plays leading up to the experiments, giving a sense of fearfulness, tension and build-up."Sound appears both in the form of soundtrack , sound effects, and voice-over narration. The sound effects are minimal and usually represent familiar concepts such as airport sounds or footsteps." (Filmslie)  Even the design of the experiments, having these two pads with wires in them are a little creepy, giving off the idea that these ideas could be going into their eyes. The voice of the narrator in the film is Jean Negroni, his voice in the film is very relaxing which can lead you into a false sense of security, so when the big plot twist is revealed you are nowhere prepared for it. The music for the film was also really well suited for the situation that the story that took place in. Having this very eerie effect with the high silent screeches and the silent whispering gives the impression that something secret is going on. Also because of what the film is you expect from the description of the experiments and the whispering you would expect there to be a jumpscare of someone screaming very loudly which gives off even more anxiety. Overall the sound design for the film is really good! Almost as if every single sound for the film has been picked out individually and placed with a purpose.

Figure 4: Hero Death Scene
The film as a whole is a very good concept, however where this film excels in its story it loses in its art style. Whilst these still images are very well taken and their symbolisms are near perfect, having very sharp images switching from one another and being re-used really reminds you that what your seeing is merely fiction. You cannot really get heavily immersed into the film for there is very little to immerse yourself in, in a way this film is almost like a perfect, stereotypical, time travel love story. The film works as a film, however due to the way it has been made you would think that this film was made by a college student with an extremely limited budget and very little time.


Biblography

La Jetée reviews & ratings. (2000) [online] A. Liddel. 
At: 
(Accessed on 8.1.16)
A, S. (2014) La Jetee Chris marker analysis | experimental film.
At: 

Rosenbaum, J. (2013) La Jetee.
At: 

Image Biblography

Figure 1: La Jetee Poster

Figure 2: Paris

Figure 3: Hero 

Figure 4: Hero Death Scene

1 comment:

  1. *however due to the way it has been made you would think that this film was made by a college student with an extremely limited budget and very little time*

    Hmmm - not sure highly subjective opinions like this are appropriate, Tom - the trick in terms of writing reviews at this level of study is to try and grasp why the filmmaker made the decisions he did in terms of structure and media etc, and how those decisions underwrite the narrative, theme or story. It should be obvious that Marker made a decision to make his film in this way, as opposed to the film looking like it was made by some amateur or constrained by budget. Really, this comment says more about your expectations of what 'film' can be, and much less about the intentions and skill of the director...

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