A short science fiction movie about time travel, the third world war, atomic explosions, and a post-atomic society of survivors, living in sewers infested with rats, desperately trying to return to civilization, seeking help from future. Yet for the main character, haunted by a recurring dream of an airport scene, a woman and a little kid, this soon assumes a secondary significance. He is motivated by his yearning for love, no questions asked, lived in the absolute moment, time having lost its meaning, once stripped of its condition of reality; love for the woman he encounters in the past, incarnation of the woman of his dream, and key to the dream itself. A love story free from all pretentiousness, and all the useless social conventions, and somehow this can also be applied to the film itself: a sci-fi without special effects, without lighting, without dialogues, without moving pictures; just the emotions, and the sense of being completely involved in the story, somehow as in Tarkowsy’s movies,like Stalker and Solyaris.
Terry Gilliam took inspiration from La Jetee for his Twelve Monkeys, achieving outstanding results, but it is the original Chris Marker’s work that should be remembered, for its vivid and sharp, yet dreamy photography, the sweeping emotions the viewer experiences. The film, in fact, is made entirely of black and white still photographs (apart from one short video), with a voice over narrator, and a beautiful score. The rhythm is unexpectedly inexorable and eventual, and the stillness of the medium used allows for a compact and tight result: no image is wasted, no element is abused.
We never really experience the fact we are simply watching still images, engrossed as we are in the experience of the story, the narrator’s soothing voice, and the background noises made of whispers, which form a dismal blanket of mystery and eventuality. Awesome film, awesome work of art.