La Jetee and French New Wave



So this week we had a viewing of a film from the French New Wave called “La Jetee” by Chris Marker. It was a quite unusual to what we have been presented up until now, so I decided to add my own brief synopsis of the story of the film:

We follow the journey of  a man who is forced into taking part in scientific experiments that are done with the intention of manipulating time traveling to their own will. This experiment has been already implemented on other captive individuals as well but with not so fortune outcomes for them.  But when this man is put under the experiment it is shown that he is actually the only one who can survive it for the length that he has. So it is during this trial that whenever he is “put under”, so to speak, he begins to be captivated by a blonde beauty and whenever he slips into the unconsciousness, he always travels to see her (intentionally or not) and eventually falls in love with her. These experiments happen during a period of if not weeks, months and they only help to establish his personal desire to actually be with her always and not only during brief flashes of time. It is a beautifully tragic love story told by the means of black and white still images, almost like a slideshow, with a compelling voice-over to navigate the audience through what is being presented to them.

It is quite intriguing to see the evolution of film making, because in this film you can see how the storyteller was able to work with the idea of “time traveling” and work it to his will. I think it was well accomplished in that sense.

Now to simply answer the question that was presented to us in class:

  • How does the film reflect on film form? It is reflected, as I previously mentioned, through the use of still images and voice-over, primarily. But it also is presented to us through the use of the soundtrack because it appeals the audience to feel a certain specific emotion during specific parts of the storytelling (ex: a lyrical choir singing at the beginning when the pictures of a burning Paris is shown and the soft tones when the pictures of the woman are shown.)


This film is an example of how directors where during this New Wave of cinema. They wanted to make films for the simple pleasure of doing something beautiful and that was appreciated as it should, as an art form. They didn’t want to have to follow the “rules” of the Old Hollywood type of industry who made films to appeal to the masses without even thinking twice about how compelling the actual narrative should be. Although, I don’t completely agree with this saying, because even there were quite a few films only done to impress audiences visually that no significant back story to them (ex: Bus Stop, 1956) I do think that quite a few of the Old Hollywood films had a sort of poetics and beauty about them that wasn’t solely based on visuals ( ex: Gone With the Wind, 1949). I inspired myself from this site about the French New Wave for beginners. Anyways, these filmmakers intended to follow their own rules and to let their creative juices flow. So from what I’ve gathered, Italy’s  neo realism and France’s New Wave were basically the one’s who rebelled against their own industries and funded their own.

To me, that’s pretty baddass.




Avant-garde and Experimental Cinema

maya deren


In this class we learned that many films, especially from the early 1920’s, were considered experimental films. This means that they didn’t follow the rules of mainstream cinema, most often questioning some issues regarding sexuality, religion, politics and life in general which earned them the label of “outcasts” by the general film industry and even the audience who wasn’t used to having such taboo topics being brought forth so openly. An example of one of these films is “Meshes Of The Afternoon” (1943), that we watched in class, and being it an “out of the box” storyline, it’s meaning will create waves of mixed opinions due to its subjective interpretation.


Some may think she was dreaming the whole time, others believe that what was shown was her in limbo after being murdered thus she’s reliving the moments up until her death, or she could have killed herself and what we’re seeing is a woman that has no idea of what is happening, then she could’ve had an affair with a men who gave her the flower, the same men that comes visit her and tries to kiss her, maybe that’s why he killed her so his wife would never know… Basically the options for they “whys” and the “whats” of this film are nearly endless, being there no right or wrong answer. And that’s what I think is brilliant about it. Personally, I normally don’t dig much into the experimental genre but when there’s a film that even though we don’t fully grasp its concept and why the characters acted the way they did or why that had to happen, we still find it interesting, then I think the director made a good job! This is just one of the many films in this specific genre that created a cult following due to its endless possibilities story wise. But avant-garde makes its influence known in all art forms, from music to sculpture to painting to photography to architecture.

So I can say that from this class I learned that the interpretation of said avant-garde films can be limitless and that the experimental genre can influence any existent art form.