Video Essay: Listening to ‘La Jetée’

I recently (more like finally) got a chance to see Rian Johnson’s excellent new film Looper, which featured Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a hired killer who kills men sent from the future by the mob.  Bruce Willis plays the older Joe, who was sent back to be killed but manages to escape.  His goal: kill the little boy who will grow up to  become a very powerful mob figure who Joe holds responsible for the death of his future wife.  Seeing Bruce Willis in this time travel movie reminded me of that other time travel movie he did, the excellent 1995 Terry Gilliam film 12 Monkeys12 Monkeys itself was a feature-length adaptation of a 1962 black-and-white French short film made by Chris Marker called La Jetée.  It is constructed almost entirely of still photos, and it tells the story of underground scientists in a post-nuclear war Paris testing time travel on prisoners in the hope of sending one of them back in time to prevent the war that destroyed the world.  What makes this short film stand out is the fluidity of the images as well as its soundscape.  Below is a video essay (courtesy of the Criterion Collection) discussing the sound of La Jetée.  Please enjoy!

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