Tuesday, March 9, 2010

La Jetee by Chris Marker

Chris Marker’s film La Jetee is comprised of a series of still images, shot in gorgeous grainy black and white, accompanied with voiceover narration. So it seems only fitting that it has been adapted into a book.

Humanity has been wiped out by a nuclear holocaust. “The victors,” as they are called, have established some kind of underground penal colony, and have begun conducting time travel experiments using the prisoners as guinea pigs, in hopes of gaining information about the source of the catastrophe, and ultimately to change the course of history. One man in particular is chosen for his strong mental image of the peacetime world—he has been haunted by a childhood memory, in which he witnessed a man die—the logic being that “if [he] were able to conceive or to dream another time, perhaps [he] would be able to live in it.”

The book looks amazing*, and the story is thrilling and philosophically complex. Part photo book, part homage to the film, part science fiction novella with a pretty complicated time paradox—you really can't go wrong.

*Although it's admittedly hard to tell from the glare in these scans.

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