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The best time travel movie ever made

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“In honor of Looper, what is the best time travel movie ever made?”

This question was tossed out by Matt Singer at Criticwire in this week’s survey.

The first film I got to think of was 12 Monkeys. I’ve seen it a couple of time and even if I know the twist by now, I still love the melancholy, the visuals, the heartbreaking story and its take on a future dystopian society.

But then I remembered that I had been told about a French short film from 1962, La jetée, which was supposed to be the source of inspiration of 12 Monkeys. Shouldn’t I give that one at least a chance before I gave my answer?

My answer was yes, so I went along and watched it. And am I glad that I did!

I won’t say too much about the story, more than that it’s about a man who is sent away on journeys in time in order to try to find a way to help saving the present. It took me into the future and into the past, it told me a love story and brought me thrills and chills and images that won’t leave me anytime soon.

The film is only 28 minutes long and it consists of black and white still images, music and a narrative voice. It doesn’t sound like something that holds up against a modern big budget production. But it does.

Just look at the photos! They’re so good that each one is a piece of art that would qualify for a photo exhibition. The score is mesmerizing and the voiceover text is like poetry.

However it’s more than just the esthetics that speaks to me. The film has the single quality that I think is the one I appreciate most of all in time travel movies: It messes with your mind until the walls of reality start to crumble and for a sweet moment of joy and horror you’re hit by the wave of sense of wonder.

I’m still a fan of 12 Monkeys. But it doesn’t beat the original.

La jetée (Chris Marker, FR, 1962) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

September 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in La jetée