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cinematography of Chris Marker's La Jetée


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#1 Vincenzo Condorelli AIC

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 03:17 PM

the director i'm working with on a feature doc for theatrical release (we're at early prep) proposed to take chris marker's "la jetéee", the classic from french new wave, as a main visual reference. the proposal makes quite sense cause half of the film will rely on archive photography, the other half is what we'll shoot and it deals with contemporary events.

in this way the whole film could have an organic visual narrative and a balance between the past and the present times.

besides many theorical debates (whether la jetée is photography or cinematography) i've not found much on the internet and i was wondering if anyone would share more technical infos about the way the film was captured.

my guess is that it was shot on agfa film stock, as most of european films of those times, medium format 6 x 4,5 cm (equal to 1.33:1 aspect ratio).

could anyone share any more info on this?

thx a lot
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:10 AM

I actually believe it was all shot as a movie and the decision to reduce it to still frames was made in post.
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#3 Patrick ODonnell

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 02:14 PM

I actually believe it was all shot as a movie and the decision to reduce it to still frames was made in post.

In the commentary on the Criterion DVD, Marker, I believe, states that he shot with still film because he couldn't afford to shoot motion picture film. For the one "motion" shot, he borrowed a friend's movie camera for a few hours. Whether or not this is true, I have no way of knowing.
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#4 Rex Orwell

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 03:56 PM

Funny this thread comes about now. I'm just about to watch this for the first time.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:46 PM

What I heard came from a teacher 30 years ago... So I would go with what Marker said on the dvd, it makes more sense anyway!
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:14 AM

If you can get hold of it, have a look also at an Australian feature shot in the early 90's called "What I Have Written". (Director John Hughes, DP Dion Beebe - one of his early gigs). I worked with Dion on the look and effects, sections of which we described as "almost black and white, almost freeze-frame" - but not quite).

We took La Jetée as a reference, with still-ish sequences representing memories (or are they imagined scenes written in a novel? - that's the question the film asks). We considered shooting stills, but ended up shooting cine at 6fps (to get some motion blur), selecting key frames in a moving shot and step-printing them to freeze the action for the right amount of time until the next key frame came up.

However, like Chris Marker we couldn't afford much film, so those sequences were shot in 16mm - and the 6fps helped with stock costs too, although that was mostly for creative reasons.
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#7 John Woods

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:34 PM

From the Criterion edition dvd booklet: "The material for La Jetee was created with a Pentax 24 x 36, and the only cinema part (the blinking of the eyes) with an Arriflex 35mm film camera, borrowed for one hour."

That is all that is mentioned. I would guess that the finished film was assembled on an animation stand or optical printer.
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