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La Jetee, Who needs Motion in a film?

Updated on April 21, 2014

Impact of Movement

Movement in a film is a crucial. Whether there is a lot of movement, or only a little, a strong message is displayed. La Jetée, the 1962 film directed by Chris Marker, explores how much the lack of movement can be used to create a desired effect. As we discussed in class, many people would think the screenwriter would be considered the author of the film; however, films main feature isn’t their script, but rather the mise-en-scene. The true story is told through the sight you see in a film. This is why it is in itself an art form. This paper will discuss how the absence of moving images impacts the viewers take on the film La Jetée.

La Jetée is different than almost any other film out there, and was the first of its kind. Using only photographs and one, six second motion picture scene, Chris Marker was able to tell one of the most powerful stories put into film. If you were to only read the script of the narrators voice throughout the movie, you would be disappointed. The story doesn’t have any crazy features. Instead, it is just a pretty straightforward plot line. The true story being told is through the mise-en-scene, where still frames are adding a plethora of character to the film. The still frames add a sort of flatness and mystery to each scene.

For example, in the scene where the man is hooking the main character up to the machine that allows him to go back in time, little is shown. Lots of darkness and some contrast lighting are the only ways allowing you to see the face of the man. The lack of knowledge of the situation given to the viewer makes them get an eerie feeling. If this scene was filmed and shown in the regular style of motion pictures, it would lose this effect completely. People would be able to sense the feeling in the room a lot easier and wouldn’t feel as tense about the situation. The movement, or lack of movement in this scene, as well as in the entire film, is a crucial aspect of the story being told.

One example of movement creating an extremely powerful effect in this film is the one scene where the woman’s eyes blink. This section of motion picture changes time in the viewer’s eyes. As we discussed in class, still frames make time feel as if it was, motion pictures make time feel as if it is. This phenomenon is the genius behind this six-second motion picture clip that makes the viewer feel as if they are in reality and have finally reached the peak moment where everything makes sense.

So what impact does movement have on the meaning of a film? It is everything. Movement is the main component of why the director of the film is the author rather than the screenwriter. The attention to the significant aspect of how the changing from slow to fast, and shot to shot make a difference to the impact the film makes on the viewer is why movement is so important, and why it is the most important aspect of any film.

Full Video (Original French Version)


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