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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, June 12, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 48

[48th of 100]. Audacity is the word I'd use to consider this landmark 1962 short film from Chris Marker. First, there is the ambitious breadth of his tale, a time-hopping science fiction epic about a prisoner from sometime in a post-World War III future, devastated by nuclear war, who is forced to endure the time-traveling experiments of his captors: he is made to go to the pre-war past, to a time he remembers from childhood because of a distinct memory he has of a woman on an observation platform at Orly Airport, and of a man he sees getting killed; he is also made to go to the future to glean advise from a more technologically advanced people what they could do in his present to survive the ravaged world. Needless to say, there are twists and revelations and complications in this complex story -- all told in a running time of 28 minutes. How audacious! Second, the entire movie defies the one requirement you'd think is a definition of a motion picture: it does not move, or to be more precise, it consists entirely of still photos flashed one after the other, save for one short second when something actually moves. How audacious! It feels almost like a throwback to the beginnings of the movies, right up to the horses of Eadweard Muybridge. The story of the film is interesting enough for a consideration -- in fact, its time-traveling tale has influenced such films as Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. But I am more interested in Marker's choice of telling this story, via unmoving images, which feels almost antithetical to the very idea of the movies. It's a self-conscious conceit, and while we know panels in succession can be used to tell a story [hello, comics], we have been programmed to accept movies by the nature of its very name, that it moves. So it shouldn't work -- and yet, to our surprise, after the initial disorientation, the film exerts some raw power to lure us into its dark adventure, the still images invariably flowing along with the somber voice-over narration. It is not for everyone, but this classic taught me what's possible in thinking out of the box, that you can defy your own definitions and expectations and still be whole. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich