About the Story
The protagonist in this movie is the Man (Davos Hanich), a prisoner who is marked by his childhood memory. After the third world war in Paris, survivors lived underground as prisoners as above ground; life was unbearable. Before the war, he often went out on Sundays to watch planes. It is during one of these days that he sees the face of a woman that would eventually enable him to survive the war. Additionally, he believes that he saw a man lose his life in the jetty. His knowledge of this man, however, is limited.
In a bid for scientists to research on the concept of time travel, they settle upon the Man. It is his ability to withstand mentally the shock of time travel that leads these researchers to him. The concept of time travel, according to the experimenters, was to send an emissary to time. This emissary’s role was to summon the past and future so as to help the present. It was a good cause since the prisoners needed food, medical aid, and other supplies.
Unlike other subjects who go mad or die during the experiment, Davos only suffers immense pain. For that reason, the scientists persist with their experiment. He recalls several events including confessions, real children, and real graves. In the later days of the trial, he begins to see a woman and he realizes that she could be the one he saw on the jetty. However, upon recovery from his trance, the woman disappears.
Eventually, the protagonist develops a romantic relationship with the woman. When the scientists realize his success in connecting to the past, they attempt to link him with the future. The future entailed a rebuilt Paris. In his encounter with people from the later years, they offer him a chance to join them permanently. Since he is obsessed with the woman in his past, he requests these people to allow him to revisit his past. Eventually, he realizes that his childhood version is present in the jetty. As he hurries to meet the woman, he sees the man from the private camp. The Man realizes that he cannot escape time. It dawns on him that his past is but a haunted moment, a time of his death.
Thoughts and Feelings
The theme of time is adequately captured in the movie. One is then left to analyze the importance of this element in daily life. Most people let the past and present experiences influence future decisions. These aspects are well represented in La Jetée.
Chris Marker (the movie’s director) uses still images whose speeds have been slowed down to embalm the memory to achieve this theme. One can get trapped in the present thanks to cinema tricks that make the mind think that the events presented are currently unfolding. One thinks that the protagonist’s experiences are taking lace presently. They can, therefore, question his current decisions which include restaging his past so as to escape fate. In that case, the story is not only compelling but also haunting to the viewers.
The present in the movie revolves around the scientists who performed experiments on unwilling subjects. The motive of these experimenters was to access food and other supplies. Greed motivated their actions. The researchers wanted to gain tangible wealth and power. The whole scenario is familiar to most people in the present time. Most individuals live for the moment. People think of their personal gains before considering the needs of their neighbors. Some of them go to the extent of endangering other people’s lives without apology. Such is the case presented in the movie.
The past is presented through the protagonist. He continually recalls a memory of an event that occurred in the jetty. He allows the memory to haunt him in the present. For that reason, he becomes a victim of the unfortunate time travel experiment conducted by the scientists. He does not, however, recognize his predicament as he is blinded by his desire to go back to the past. A few individuals relate to the man’s situation. Some people are trapped in their past experiences. Some wish to live in the past because of the enticements presented at that time. Eventually, their obsession leads to their undoing. The man was enticed by the image of a woman. These past experiences often have adverse effects. As is the case of the protagonist, he meets his death because he chooses to revisit it.
However, one realizes that the actor is interested in the discovering the truth. He should be lauded for caring more about his vision of actual occurrences. He recognizes that the basis of time travel involves undergoing dialectic struggles that occur within a person. He, therefore, suffers immense pain but sticks to his desire for the truth. The man is different from other characters that covet shadows and other objects and for that reason care less about the truth.
The use of still photographs in the movie evidently was a pacesetter for the production of other films that emulated the same concept. The theme of time is captured effectively through the use of these shots. It stands out more than it possibly would if the director decided to use any other form of presentation. Additionally, the illusion of time lapse and movement and themes of memory and perception are successfully achieved through this style.