I recently had the chance to revisit LA JETÉE, after watching Terry Gilliam’s adaptation 12 MONKEYS for the first time. And Chris Marker’s influential science fiction short film is even better than I remembered. (12 MONKEYS was pretty good, too.) The loose narrative tells the story of a man enslaved in an apocalyptic present, who is sent back to a woman in the past, in preparation for seeking help from the future. The sci-fi elements work all the better for remaining ambiguous, relying more on evocative visuals than clear explanations. And of course, the film is famous for relying (almost) entirely on still photographs, which lends it a disjointed, picture book quality. The photographs themselves are beautiful and stark, and do an amazing job of world building, even while showing very little. The sound design is similarly atmospheric. And it all comes together toward a moving conclusion, proving that constraints and creativity go hand in hand.
Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to the future.