Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Endless Time in La Jetee

One aspect that intrigued me in La Jetée was the loop that the main character creates when he goes back in time all the way to his childhood at the end of the movie. It not only ties the movie back to itself, but it also results in an endless loop of his viewing of his own death as a child and his dying in front of his childhood self as an adult. This cycle of never-ending time is almost like a way to immortality, though it is violent and impossible to break out of -- he is doomed to forever repeat trauma and death. The fact that his childhood trauma gives him the ability to travel in time as an adult further emphasizes this inescapable loop. This loop is very much similar to the concept of the ourobouros - a snake eating its own tail, representing a vicious cycle or things beginning as they end.

The other, almost painfully obvious significant point in the movie was the moving shot of the woman when she wakes up in the bed. This is used as a formal device to emphasize the scene; the scene first moves slowly, then the rate of the photographs becomes faster and faster as she finally wakes up and blinks at the camera. The scene itself could have been used to emphasize the idea of waking up from the endless loops we create for ourselves each day and actually changing something, instead of repeating the same negative habits over and over as if we were machines needing new input from an operator.

There is simply too much that can be written about this movie, and I certainly haven't fully explained these two points, but La Jetée definitely gives us something to think about.



Blogger Stephanie Chien said...

I agree with you in that La Jetee does a great job presenting endless time with its storyline. To add on, even without the mad scientist's experiment, I felt that the main character naturally exhibits the concept of endless time. Through his memories, he had the ability to transcend time as much as he wanted to, thus exhibiting this concept of endless time. The trauma he experienced as a child is naturally relived over and over in his head, immortalized through his memories. However, it is only immortalized up until the point of his death, as most individual memories are. Since these memories are individualized, they are only available for a limited period of time. They will eventually become perishable, the inescapable loop will disappear, and time will no longer be endless.

I also wanted to note that it is interesting that each person has their own individualized inescapable loop. Instances are significant or insignificant to individuals in different ways, and what he may find traumatic may be just another moment in someone else's life. Everything is subjective.

2/14/2007 3:09 PM  
Blogger Meegan Brooks said...

It's funny, I think those are probably the two most blatant parts of the movie, but at the same time they really are the most interesting. I'm starting to find it interesting how film can use either plot or film devices themselves to demonstrate time travelling, and this is really the first good example of a film that uses plot. Yes, the plot of the Time Machine revolves around time travelling, but this is the first film we have seen it in, and it leaves me with a different feeling than, say, Man With A Movie Camera, which uses the camera itself to freeze time or play it backwards. At the same time, I think I found this part of the plot to be more of just an interesting twist in the end (6th Sense-style) than a hugely insightful comment on endless time. But that is probably just me, because I can definately see where you're coming from.

As far as the scene with the eye opening goes, I know I said this in class already, but it really didn't shock me that much. I think that I was so comfortable watching the still image of her sleeping that I had almost convinced myself to see movements in her face, as if I were watching a film of her sleep rather than a photo of her sleeping. Therefore, when the eye opened, it didn't strike me in the way that it would have if, say, a photo of someone running then turned into film. I think that this point really emphasizes film's ability to capture movement, which can be tied back to its ability to capture and control reality, which eventually leads back to time. And that, like everything else (not really, but a blatant pattern is really ripening), brings us back to Kino Eye.

PS. I enjoyed reading your essay :)

2/23/2007 12:48 AM  

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