Interpretation of Lacuna/ Studio Montage: La Jette

Studio Montage: Writing and Montage exercises.

Plot Summary and Interpretation of Lacuna-

La Jetée by Chris Marker, (1962) is the story of a man, marked by an image of his childhood. ‘The violent scene that upset him, and whose meaning he was to grasp only years later, happened on the main jetty at Orly, the Paris airport, sometime before the outbreak of World War III.’ (Chris Marker n.d. para. 1)

Prisoners of war were subjected to experiments, the outcome of which resulted in death, psychosis or despair. This particular man expected a meeting with a mad scientist from the stories he was told however he was presented with a realist who explained that the only path for survival was to travel through time. He undertook a multitude of time travel experiments, which was prompted by his memories. In the end his destiny lead him to review a moment from his childhood, a scene he obsessed over. Unexpectedly, this scene authorized him to re-watch and re-live his own d­eath. (La jetée 1962)

It is interesting to reminisce the ways in which this film has depicted certain gaps in history. The man who is subjected to the experiments is trying to reconnect his life in somewhat of a chronological order yet as he progresses through his memories he becomes restrained by key moments of his mental history. These moments are surrounded with voids of memory, which he is unable to piece back together. The lacuna is ultimately collated and composed when he realizes his fate- death, an inescapable truth perhaps suggesting that the afterlife masks dark realities with lacunas to put our minds at ease.

Merits of this style of filmmaking and where it falls short-

This film compiles a series of black and white images pieced together into a show reel to make a short film. The lack of moving imagery can be stark however it allows the viewer to really engage with the screen thus allowing each image to really sink into ones memory. Each image presented has tonal variation generated by varying the exposure and shading on each image making it feel as though time is passing which is a cleaver way of passing through time and memory, two key themes throughout the film. The voiceovers are eerie and engaging. The tone and volume of the voiceovers vary from whispers which have a ghostly presence to firm talking recounting a series of events and even the sound of a heart beat which builds suspension and lets the audience know exactly how to feel. This builds an atmosphere of unease, presumably a difficult thing to do when presented with just a slideshow of black and white images.






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