La Jetée (1962)

(Downloaded, March 2009) Best known as “the film that inspired Twelve Monkeys”, this film is often lauded as a small masterpiece of experimental sixties filmmaking, or hyped as better than the Hollywood rip-off. But those for whom “experimental” is synonymous with “uh-oh” may not be overly impressed: The central conceit of telling a story through narration over still black-and-white pictures is the kind of thing that works better in practice than in theory, and the film is about twice too long even at just 26 minutes. Fans of the Terry Gilliam film will notice that this has a rather more optimistic fillip into the future, but otherwise the story is broadly similar, with a narrative closure that can be seen coming from the very beginning. In SF terms, there isn’t much here to satisfy, with a basic time-travel plot that is barely justified or rationalized. The rest feels very French-Sixties-experimental, which may or may not be a selling point.

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