La Jetée (French pronunciation: [la ʒəte, ʒte], "The Jetty") is a 1962
French science fiction featurette by Chris Marker. Constructed
almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear
war experiment in time travel.
The film runs for 28 minutes and is in black and white. It won the
Prix Jean Vigo for short film.
The 1995 science fiction film 12 Monkeys was inspired by, and takes
several concepts directly from, La Jetée.
Influence and legacy
Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (1995) was inspired by, and takes several concepts
directly from, La Jetée (acknowledging this debt in the opening credits).
In 1996, Zone Books released a book which reproduced the film's original
images along with the script in both English and French.
It was re-released in 2008, but is now out of print.
The 2003 short film, La puppé, is both an homage to and a parody of La Jetée.
The video for Sigue Sigue Sputnik's 1989 single "Dancerama" is also an homage
to La Jetée.
The film is one of the influences in the video for David Bowie's "Jump They
The music video for Isis's "In Fiction", from 2004's Panopticon, drew
comparisons with La Jetée.
The song "Last Night at the Jetty" by Panda Bear has lyrics inspired by the
themes of the film.
The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) also takes inspiration in the relationship
between the woman and the time traveller.
In 2010, Time ranked La Jetée first in its list of "Top 10 time-travel movies".
In 2012, in correspondence with the Sight & Sound Poll, the British Film
Institute deemed ″La Jetée″ as the 50th greatest film of all time.
Plot (including shock ending spoilers)
A man (Davos Hanich) is a prisoner in the aftermath of the Third
World War, in a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live
underground in the Palais de Chaillot galleries.
Scientists research time travel, hoping to send test subjects to
different time periods "to call past and future to the rescue of the
They have difficulty finding subjects who can mentally withstand the
shock of time travel, but eventually settle upon the prisoner, whose
key to the past is a vague but obsessive memory, from his pre-war
childhood, of a woman (Hélène Chatelain) he had seen on the
observation platform ('the jetty') at Orly Airport shortly before
witnessing a startling incident there.
He had not understood exactly what happened, but knew he had
seen a man die.
After several attempts, he reaches the pre-war period.
He meets the woman from his memory, and they develop a romantic
After his successful passages to the past, the experimenters attempt
to send him into the far future.
In a brief meeting with the technologically advanced people of the
future, he is given a power unit sufficient to regenerate his own
Upon his return, with his mission accomplished, he discerns that he
is to be executed by his jailers.
He is contacted by the people of the future, who offer to help him
escape to their time permanently, but he asks instead to be returned
to the pre-war time of his childhood, hoping to find the woman
He is returned and does find her, on the jetty at the airport.
However, as he rushes to her, he notices an agent of his jailers who
has followed him and realises the agent is about to kill him.
In his final moments, he comes to understand that the incident
which he witnessed as a child, which has haunted him for his entire
life, was his own death.