La Jetee is perhaps my favorite work of art. Ever. Why? It seems a near perfect merge of form and content.
The film is mostly comprised of black and white photographic stills. There is movement of the camera within the stills, however, only about three seconds of it is actually realtime movement. These moments relate to the search for transcendental experience. It strikes me they are profound because they occur during the love/sex scene. Though the main character travels through time during the narrative, these moments are the only ones in which he is in real time/our time.
Some notes about my experience as an audience member… I travel with him (as him?) through space and time by watching. I grow accustomed to life being represented through static images (I might think: this is all the world around me is… like for the prisoners of Plato’s cave). This seems similar to the way I commonly experience memory. Then, I experience the love scene as moving (literally and emotionally). When I remember the film to myself later- images are burned into my mind… the same ones that caused him (within the narrative) to be selected for the experiments.
It *earns* the right to use movement, whereas most moving images take movement for granted.
The moments of movement are about transcendence, awakening, and experience. I am also noting that in these moments the female character looks at him, at the camera, and at us. This is a break from the rest of the movie… she is implicating the audience. Perhaps part of the magic is that she seems to become aware of us, the audience, as her lover. Going back to my experience: I get to be her lover. I get to experience the moment of transcendence within the sea of static images. In this moment I embody the protagonist. I connect with the woman although we too exist in different realities. Further: at the end of the film it is my death that I am watching. For the movie ends and I am no longer able to access that world.
(And a correction of the previous entry- it isn't the main character telling the story, but rather an anonymous narrator.)
There is also an English version. I was horrified at first but it turns out that Chris Marker likes the English version better. So, I suppose it's legit. Though it doesn't seem as beautiful to me (yeah, I romanticize the French language- it's true).