This post was inspired by (and warmly stolen from) Alex Withrow at the wonderful ‘And So It Begins’. Check out his takes here.
Seeing La Jetée for the first time is one of a select few film-watching experiences I’ll never forget. I blind bought a DVD knowing the plot, the photomontage schtick- young and green enough to let my expectations drive (and usually ruin) a lot of movies.
Frankly I was a hell of a lot more excited to flick over to the other side of the DVD- which had Marker’s sublime ‘Sans Soleil’ just waiting to go- so I did what I never do and emerged from the inky recesses of a teenage room that seriously needed airing to watch it out in the open on the family TV. And for almost thirty minutes it felt like I’d left my fucking body.
There are no words for how much this film ever so quietly means to me, as you’ll see below, but I promise to try…
How strikingly director Chris Marker establishes his atmosphere- right from the get-go. Sure, it’s a cheaply-made short movie that kicks off with a simple zoom out on a still photo- but listen to the haunting choir, look at how comfortable the crew is in letting us sit in this one image the whole time. There’s something to be said for having the confidence to let your audience take in everything your image has to say- then pushing them a little further to see what they find with some extra time. A flurry of quick-cut montage, as is usually the case today, smacks of trying to hard to get us to ignore the fact we’re just waiting for the crew to be listed before we can start. Opening credits should be a vehicle to kick off a film in a way that immediately fascinates- no matter how simple you go.