February 20, 2005

La Jetée

Chris Marker's La Jetée: I don't know how many times I've seen this film, either on-screen or replayed in my mind. The first time, I sat enthralled in a small Film History class late one wintry evening at the City University in London. Unlike the rest of the class, I'd come unprepared, and had no idea what to expect (I didn't even know we'd be seeing a film that evening). Everyone else sat there, getting their expectations confirmed; me, I sat there getting an education. An education in how to build a sense of movement through variably-paced episodic stillness, in the narrative strength of visual brevity, in the suggestive use of black and white textures and contrasts, of concise verbal narration (the half-understood French soundtrack played like a counterpoint in the back of my mind to the fugue on the screen), and, above all, in implication and indirection. The story — the paradox at the heart of the film — was the least of it (I'm always one to miss the point, and besides, you could see it coming from about five minutes into the film...). It's still the visual imagery and sequencing that haunts me twenty years later. And I could never see Orly the same way again.

But it's funny how in the future we'll all look and dress like cute white 1960's Parisian art students.

(Part of Flix).



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