Film Center

December 8th, 2011

Analysis #2: Materiality of Film on “La Jetee”

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized

Steven Rengifo

December 6th, 2011

Media Studies 144-01

Analysis #2: Materiality of Film for La Jetee

            The screening in class was the first time I have ever watched the movie. I remember your reaction after it was over, and couldn’t agree with you more about how powerful a 28-minute film can be. I will be analyzing this film in its entirety because it is a short film, also because the film has a unique quality. There are 24 frames in each shot of a film and that is what film is, a combination of thousands of separate images. These images are projected at a certain rate to create a moving image. The specific technique that makes La Jetee unique is that film is almost completely filled with still shots and photography that is held for several seconds. This is clearly different from what most films are, which are actual moving pictures to create many images flashed before you on screen.

Throughout the short, the audience is focused on just looking at single shots or images for several seconds. This urges the audience to stop, look, and analyze what is shown on screen. La Jetee is about survivors of a nuclear explosion that caused World War III, and then tapping into the mind of a man who has a mind filled with rich memories of the past. Apparently a couple of people have survived in France and what are left are some citizens and scientists. The scientists have more control and use the other survivors as objects of experimentation. Then comes on individual who has a clear vision of what the past once was.

The film was ahead of its time because how it just used still shots of photography to convey its message. I liked how it was different, but I was left confused at the end. A scene I was confused with was the one shot of the man sleeping and opening his eyes, the whispering, and the heart pounding. The stuff that the scientist’s had on their eyes was confusing as well. I’m not sure what was the point of all of that, but it did create a lot of suspense for me. I would consider this film to be avant-garde instead of just being a regular short film. There is narrative, but a lot of it is hard to follow.

This was the film that gained Chris Marker him international recognition. What does the film try to convey by just using just photographs? I believe it forces us stop and look at hat might possibly be our future. When the movie was released in 1963, France was already gaining international respect and popularity with their French New Wave Movement. This was time when French filmmakers and critics were frustrated with traditional French cinema. The filmmakers challenged the establishment of how films were created, by making their own films at a very cheap level. Just from watching the types of movies, you can see how cheap and quickly it was done.

In this case, Marker wanted to do the film just in still photo shots. To create the effect of an eerie future, there were a lot of qualities from film noir that was used. The images were purposely shot in dark or closed settings. Most importantly the museum shots had a lot of a dark tone to it. It goes to show how simple a film can be created. Marker just took pictures with the actors in them in certain areas around Paris. The rest was just edited and revised in the editing process of the film. The use of overlapping images of Paris being destroyed made the experience more realistic for the audience. The film sows the audience how the future will be if something is not done. The filmmaker is crying for action in the film, but in a very subtle way.

This movie and the others that were released before the student protests that happened in France. Students in France were highly influenced by these films and their messages. The audience should pay attention to how Marker is influenced by film noir. The French New Wave is a movement that was influenced by film noir and it especially shown in La Jetee. Lastly, I believe Marker achieved his goal affecting the audience. The film certainly affected me because I was left in confusion and amazed at how the photography can say a lot in 28 minutes.

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5 Responses to ' Analysis #2: Materiality of Film on “La Jetee” '

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  1.    Roberto Rodriguez said,

    on December 8th, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    This was a very good analysis and I liked how you made it clear what the film was about which was not very clear to me when I saw it. I also liked the way you described how the director used alot of still images to help show the materiality of film

  2.    kshin said,

    on December 9th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    You have a great ablity of analysis. What you done here helps me to better understand the materiality of film. Actually, now.. I’m having trouble what I’m doing on my analysis. I’ll keep thinking. Thanks.

  3.    Natalie Bernabe said,

    on December 9th, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I like how you incorporated the history behind this short film to tie in with the statement made in this film. I thought it was a very jarring piece, and could definitely see how this could reflect upon our future. One of the most memorable scenes for me was the heartbeat and whispering one, it really left one in suspense! The materiality of this film is noted with the composition, which you analyzed the photo-montage well.

  4.    Daniel Min said,

    on December 12th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    This film is quite dark, yet elegant in its prose. Chris Marker’s film is ingenious and much like to your review as well. Remarkable analysis I’m glad you picked this film because it makes me want to watch it again.

  5.    Amy Herzog said,

    on December 19th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Really great work, Steven– I know this is a challenging film to tackle. Excellent reflections on what was going on at the time, and how this context manifested itself in the images. One minor technical point– film is shot at 24 frames per second (not per shot). But your overall point is well taken. Thanks for all your hard work this semester.

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