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The Frozen Frame as an Immortal Object –: Reflections on Chris Marker’s La Jetée

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La jetée (1962) is probably French director Chris Marker’s best known short film. A dark science-fiction story shot in black and white and using only stills, it has become cult and a reference for many film directors. For instance, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995) has been directly inspired by La jetée. A strange cinematographic object, shot while Marker was working on another project, it has intrigued many critics, who have for the most part focused on the narrative and the form of the film. There is, however, another aspect which demands a closer study, which is the film itself, as an object constructed with objects. Denying the “true to life” identity of film – which Marker will explore through the documentary he is shooting at the same time – La jetée questions the notions of memory, history and power through an artificial construction that goes against the conventional definition of a moving picture. Given the deeply intellectual and political nature of Chris Marker’s film-making, this form goes beyond a mere “exercice de style” and points to a more crucial question, which is the true purpose of the film as an artefact, that is to say as an object designed to take a specific position in a specific field.
Original languageEnglish
Journal16:9
ISSN1603-5194
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • chris marker, film, memory

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