La Jetée ("The Jetty," here referring to an outdoor viewing pier at an airport), is a 1962 French science fiction featurette by Chris Marker. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. It is 28 mins long, black and white. It won the Prix Jean Vigo for short film.
The 1995 science fiction film 12 Monkeys was inspired by, and borrows several concepts directly from, La Jetée.
A man (Davos Hanich) is a prisoner in the aftermath of World War III in post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries. Scientists research time travel, hoping to send test subjects to different time periods "to call past and future to the rescue of the present". They have difficulty finding subjects who can mentally withstand the shock of time travel. The scientists eventually settle upon the prisoner; his key to the past is a vague but obsessive memory from his pre-war childhood of a woman (Hélène Chatelain) he had seen on the observation platform ("the jetty") at Orly Airport shortly before witnessing a startling incident there. He had not understood exactly what happened but knew he had seen a man die.
The story might have a familiar ring to you.
It's basically the same story Terry Gilliam used in "12 Monkeys".
But while "12 Monkeys" is a great movie,
ultimately it will be "La jetée" that will stand the test of time.
He was a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, multimedia artist and film essayist. His best known films are La Jetée (1962), A Grin Without a Cat (1977), Sans Soleil (1983) and AK (1985), an essay film on the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Marker is often associated with the Left Bank Cinema movement that occurred in the late 1950s and included such other filmmakers as Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, Henri Colpi and Armand Gatti.
His friend and sometime collaborator Alain Resnais has called him "the prototype of the twenty-first-century man." Film theorist Roy Armes has said of him: "Marker is unclassifiable because he is unique...The French Cinema has its dramatists and its poets, its technicians, and its autobiographers, but only has one true essayist: Chris Marker."
Directed by: Chris Marker
Screenplay: Chris Marker
Produced by: Anatole Dauman
Cinematography by: Jean Chiabaut, Chris Marker