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La Jetee / Sans Soleil (DVD)

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Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Science Fiction / Theatrical Release: 1962 / Director: Chris Marker / Actors: Florence Delay, Charlotte Kerr ... / DVD released 28 July, 2003 at Nouveaux Pictures / Features of the DVD: Black & White, Colour, Dubbed, PAL

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      02.04.2010 09:33
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      A ground breaking cinematic experiment

      Even now this film is still absolutely ground-breaking, it first came to international prominence following the release of 12 Monkeys as its inspiration.

      This is a film of a collection of still images with narrative made into a story.

      The story as it is, is that a group of post World War 3 scientists attempt to send a heroic man back in time to the days pre-war to try and ensure the war is stopped.

      They ask the man to concentrate on a boyhood memory whilst filling him with drugs to return to the past and this is where we see the iconic image of a man passing himself as a child. But once in the past the man has a dilemma, why would anyone return to a desolate post-apocolyptic future when the past seems so much more fun, so much easier and so much more relaxed.

      Time travelling assassins are sent to destroy the messenger and the story progresses.

      For me this is art film at its highest level, its unbelievable to think this ground breaking french piece of science fiction was made in 1962, it feels so fresh and scary today. The photographic images are exceptionally varied and wild and you forget that this is a series of still images and become lost in the story.

      I would recommend this to anyone interested in the history of Science Fiction, or in ground breaking filmatic experiments. Chris Marker didn't do much else in the cinema but this inspired many other films and is still a great film today.

      The DVD comes with Sans Soleil an inferior sequel. Both are dubbed and this is fine as the images tell a story in any language. The Dvd was quite rare until recently but costs £12.71 in Amazon.com.

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      25.01.2009 16:07
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      Anyone even remotely interested in the possibilties of the moving (or still) image needs to see this

      Chris Marker's La Jetee, later forming the basis of Terry Gilliam's glorious and seriously underrated 12 Monkeys, is a stunning half-hour film made up almost entirely of still photographs (ok, all films are made up almost entirely of still photographs at one level, but you know what I mean...) concerning the efforts of a man in post-WW3 Paris to uncover - with the assistance of time travel and a group of sinister scientists - the source of a particular childhood memory.

      Time, war, memory, the apocalypse... Weighty, then, if it's an adjective we're after.

      The story itself, related via voiceover, is compelling enough to warrant La Jetee's status with most everyone whose ever seen it as The Very Best Film About Time Travel Ever Crafted. What kicks it into the highest echelons of The Art, though, are those incredible still images - punctuated by one half-glimpsed shot of a woman blinking that is as shaking and as powerful as all the explosions in all the films in the world - and the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and fear the film invokes.

      Marker has since become best known for his challenging, experimental documentary work (one such piece, the gorgeous Sans Soleil, being available as part of a DVD double-bill with this) but La Jetee remains the equal of any of those pieces, and the equal of most any other sci-fi picture you care to mention.

      A harrowing, monochrome nightmare vision hinging on a fairly distressing reiteration of the dangers of chasing memories, La Jetee is an absolute, no-question Must See, and all the more so if by any chance you're a fan of the abovementioned Gilliam wonderment.

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        12.09.2000 02:17
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        Yes, this short, French arthouse movie was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's big budget fantasy. It's far too experimental for a mass audience, but a must see if only to get an idea of where the ideas came from. La Jetee follows a man in a post-apocolyptic future. Mankind's survivors are living underground, but they seem to have mastered the art of time travel. Going back mentally rather than psyically (the hero has a body in the past, but his 'real' body stays in the future), the main character is haunted by a vision of the past. Anyone who's seen 12 Monkeys will know how this one ends, but how we get there is unusual. The experimental format of the film is a series of black and white photographs, show one after the other in a montage. Each photo is shown for several seconds, while a voiceover explains the plot. It's an interesting and unusual technique, but one which separates this short totally from the mainstream.

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