La Jetee by Chris Maker (1962) and In class photo montage.

The film “La Jetee” by Chris Maker in 1962 is a science fiction film/photo montage and tells the story of post nuclear war experiment involving time travel. Scientist research time travel and aim to send human test subjects to different time periods. They have difficulty finding test subjects “disappointment for some, death for some , madness for others” this quote revealed that past subjects weren’t mentally strong enough to time travel. Finally they found a man who was a prisoner who they believed was mentally strong enough to handle the experiment. The prisoner has a memory from this pre war childhood of seeing a women and a mans death on a the observation platform. This memory is strong enough for him to effectively time travel. After the time travel is a success he meets the women from his past and develops a relationship with her, he is then sent to the future. Chris uses a scene of floating heads to demonstrate the difference between the future past and present. He is then given a power unit to regenerate his destroyed society .After his mission is a success he fears he will be killed by the scientist who made him time travel. He asks to be returned to pre war time to escape but more importantly see the women again. He spots the women on the jetty at the airport in the past and runs to her but is killed by his jailors him his final moments.

Fig 1 :Prisoner in his final moments








La Jetee is made up of black and white pictures with almost a documentary sort of feel. There was no dialogue in the photomontage apart from a few mumbles in another language the photo montage had a voice over the entire time with was able to keep you focused on the images whilst thinking about the story in your head. The use of rhythm in the film proved to be very important, for insist in the experiment phase when the prisoner was going through pain to achieve time travel the back ground music was a fast heart beat that kept getting faster and faster as he felt more pain and then would stop when the image changed. This created the feeling of fear and grabbed my attention.


Janet Harbord a British film scholar attempted to unravel the film La Jetee mysterious in her book called “One work”., Harbord the editing, called the film “a work of post-production”. Once she examined the editing of the work. She describes Le Jetee as not just a science fiction tale with a eerie twist but but also a contemplation of time, memory and mortality.

In my group task were to create a photo montage of a group of text we were to create from a list of random words that were listed out to us. The words that were to be included in the story were balloons, maps, missing information, green, bomb, light, water, email, sorry, emoji’s, garden, remote, fights, chase, goldfish, sky and backpacks. My text turned into a stream of consciousness that was essentially about killing anyone who liked balloons, maps or wore backpacks.

To then demonstrate this in a photo montage proved difficult. With an hour and minimal resources, I was pleased with our results. We produced a PDF of 15 black and white images to tell the story. With taking photographs we didn’t want to be too obvious and try and keep the photo montage without any people in it just objects that could tell a story. For example, We choose to take a photo of a lamp post when trying to represent a balloon. We used curtains mid movement to symbolise water as they both have similar wave

Figure 2 – Curtains mid wave to show water.

when they move. Our video montage could have been more effective if it was done on a video loop so we didn’t have to manually change screens. Also from “La Jetee” I learnt that music or even background sound is very important in create mood such as excitement and danger which with more time we could have included in our montage to create a better finished product. My favourite part of our montage was the final image of a black screen to symbolise death.



Harbord, Janet. Chris Marker, La Jetée. 1st ed. London: Afterall Books, 2009. Print.

Lawrence, Levi. “‘Chris Marker: La Jetée’ By Janet Harbord”. latimes. N.p., 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

Figure 2:  Vimeo. 2017. “La jetée” by Chris Marker on Vimeo. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 March 2017].