Short of the Week

La Jetée

The ground-breaking 60′s experimental film that influenced “12 Monkeys”. In the wake of WWIII Paris, a team of scientists experiment with time-travel in order to provide hope for their future.

The SotW collection tilts heavily towards newer works rather than exhuming and appreciating older classics. Part of it is in our founding mission—to shine a light on compelling works that don’t receive the attention they deserve.

No one can accuse Chris Marker’s classic La Jetée, of failing to receive ample exposure however. It is one of the most famous short films in history, a staple of film education curricula and recipient of a very lovely Criterion Collection release. Furthermore, its influence within sci-fi filmmaking has echoed through the decades, directly influencing prominent filmmakers like Terry Gilliam and James Cameron.

As such influence would hint at, it is a remarkable film, and sadly, as it often happens, it has taken the death of its creator to force a well-deserved revisit on the internet this morning. The announcement just went out, but Chris Marker, experimental filmmaker par excellence, has died at the age of 91.

La Jetée is Marker’s most famous film, but according to the credits it was not a film at all. The filmmaker termed it an “un photo roman” or photo novel, referring to it’s unusual construction. Comprised almost entirely of still images, the film highlights the process of filmic editing through the stark precision of its images. The time-traveling tale allows for great play in elision and filmic time, which is probably why scholars are so crazy for it.

But, ultimately its enduring appeal has a lot to do with the fact that it is truly enjoyable entertainment. Its famous infinite loop storytelling is still marvelous despite numerous copycats (particularly in short film I would add), and the contrast of future dystopia with 1962 Paris is great movie-time fun. At 26 minutes, it is a long film, but don’t let this or its pedigree disway you from enjoying this celebrated classic.

Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • kung_fuelvis

    La Jetee has to be one of the most influential shorts in history and a real landmark in filmmaking. I for one wonder if my interest in shorts would have been as strong if I hadn’t been exposed to Marker’s film at an early age.

  • Stu Willis

    It is, and will always remaining, a stunning film. Thank you for posting, again.

  • bull21

    Film has been deleted by the request of Criterion. I sincerely apologize for this, since video was online with the agreement of the New York Time Digital who claimed that they had the rights on the video but decided to allow me to keep it online. Unfortunately, Criterion had found video and YT has requested from me to delete it. Despite that, I wish only just to add that as someone who really likes films, I am saddened by death of Marker who was a great person in every aspect. May he rest in peace. 

  • Maestrale

    what happened the movie,why has been removed it by user?

  • Jason Sondhi

    Thanks for coming by bull21 to explain what happened.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Link Updated

  • Dominick Cioppa

    This “photo novel” stands as the most convincing argument for the legitimization of science fiction as a cinematic tool which is able to surpass and outgrow genre. Single handedly makes Marker as important as any other experimental filmmaker including Maya Deren or Stan Brakhage.

  • Diana Lelis

    its not working,the film

  • Diana Lelis

    its not working,the film