Images From La Jetée

Chris Marker


Chris Marker’s science-fiction classic La Jetée (1963) is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential experimental films of all time. Composed exclusively of photographs except for a brief motion-picture shot capturing a woman opening her eyes, this insightful meditation on time and memory highlights Marker’s groundbreaking approach to still and moving images. Commemorating Marker’s life (1921 – 2012) and the 50th anniversary of the film, the first 14 images in La Jetée are presented in the form of a large-format mural that emulates a film-strip, installed on the street-level windows at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Positioned as both still photographs and cinematic stills, the images underscore the film’s exploration of the tension between seeing and memory, photography and film.

Writing was a significant part of Marker’s process; La Jetée’s narrated script coalesces with the photographs throughout this “story of a man marked by an image from his childhood.” Existing in a dystopian future beneath the destroyed city of Paris, where the recollection of the past is key to humanity’s survival, the protagonist is “chosen because of his obsession with an image” and sent back in time. He is implored to rediscover the details of what he alone can picture in his mind. Returning to the Paris of his youth and the woman of his dreams, he witnesses the murder that has haunted his cryptic recollection of the pier at Orly Airport. Marker’s timeless sequence of images draws on the metaphor of the photograph to explore the fragmented nature of memory.

This project was developed in conjunction with two others at TIFF Bell Lightbox: the exhibition Memory of a Certain Time, an overview of Marker’s still photography, and a mini-retrospective of the artist’s films, including La Jetée.

Presented in partnership with TIFF