2008-02-20

"La Jetee" vs. "Dancerama"


Chris Markers great short film "La Jetee", which he composed entirely out of b/w still-photos in 1962 has become some sort of holy grail of intelligent sci-fi cinema.

The haunting and beautiful story of a boy whose memory is obsessed with a picture of a falling man and the face of a woman on the pier of Orly Airport which he visited with his parents shortly before WW3 broke out, is a remarkable excercise in imaginative storytelling.

Inspired by Hitchcocks twisted masterpiece "Vertigo", "La Jetee" inspired virtually every film that deals with time travel and the time-space paradoxon.

"12 Monkeys" credits "La Jetee" in the opening titles and is a blown up remake. "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" gives a referrence and even stuff like "The Jacket" makes use of Markers ideas.

Being such an influence on so many movies, the stylised and stylish film should have had an impact on musicians too.

And it did! Who would be the first choice to make a stylish black and white, pseudo still-shot video that ripps off the visual ideas of Marker? Who else but Sigue Sigue Sputnik!
Yes, the band that was promising the pop-world that they were ahead of their time, while at the same time using ideas of the past.

When the sonic boom of their Moroder produced debut album was fading, SSS needed to come up with something that would make people listening through the heavy backlash of a hype machine that had turned against them.Sadly their follow up "Dress for Success" which even bore the subtitle "This time its music" was neither one or the other.

The "La Jetee"-video is the official promo to one of their last singles. It sounds like it should be their version of Suidide´s "Dream Baby Dream". But it isn´t. Far from it!
I actually wonder that EMI was still shelling out a substantial budget for the video. Despite being in black and white and certainly not made with a big budget, it must have cost more than Chris Markers 27 minute feature.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik: Dancerama


With that out of the way:
For a long time "La Jetee" was very hard to get and was rarely seen.
Thanks to google video and Youtube we can at least get a rough look at the whole, beautiful movie. One effective scene is sadly lost in the low compression. The always great Criterion Collection has recently released "La Jetee" together with Chris Markers other big masterpiece "Sans Soleil".

Chris Marker: La Jetee

1 comment:

A.J. said...

linking of the Sputnik Dancerama to Vega's Dream Baby Dream is right-on... very sharp indeed!

77 Vega