Wednesday, July 01, 2020

La Jetée (1962)

It’s strange how many movies are based on something else.  The Shawshank Redemption, Scarface and Total Recall are all based on books.  There are all manner of remakes.  TV shows like Charlie’s Angels and Mission: Impossible are made into movie franchises.  That’s not even getting into comic books and graphic novels.  I suppose it’s true that there’s very little originality anymore.

One of the movies that surprised me was 12 Monkeys.  The film that spawned a TV series was based on a shorter film called La Jetée.  Both movies follow the same basic plot.  A man is sent back in time to help save humanity.

For those that have seen 12 Monkeys, La Jetée has a few notable differences.  The most obvious is that La Jetée is a story told through a series of still images.  The narration tells of a man who is repeatedly sent back in time to help save humanity.  He’s eventually sent to the future to make sure we turn out ok.  In the end, he finds out that everything was predetermined.  The event that made him the right candidate happened because he was the right candidate.

Normally, I don’t go for the whole predestination paradox.  It seems kind of simplistic to me.  I would make an exception in this case because the entire project goes for simplicity.  At 28 minutes, the movie doesn’t really bother with a lot of details.  The characters are simply given descriptive names.  (A woman from the future or The Experimenter, for instance.)  It’s not even entirely clear what exactly the experimenter hoped to do.  What was it about going to the past or the future that would have been gained?

I don’t think I would have even known about this movie had it not been for 12 Monkeys.  It’s like one of those overly artistic movies I remember from school.  Every so often, when we had a free day, we’d get one of those short videos with the boring narration and whatnot that was generic enough to get a G rating.  I think if you’ve never seen 12 Monkeys or are not a fan of science fiction, this will be on your must-miss list.


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