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Director Chris Marker was a determined experimentalist who still sought to entertain, so it's no surprise that his most famous film, La Jetée, is both bizarre and compelling. Shot as a collage of still images, it tells the story of a man sent backward and forward in time in order to save a war-ravaged world. Packing all of the intensity of a full-length feature into 28 minutes, this densely layered narrative stands up to many repeat viewings. Every moment is fraught with anxiety, longing, and suspense as the unnamed protagonist moves through and across time, trying to avoid death at the hands of his contemporaries, the repeated loss of a past love, and the annihilation of his world in the future. Much more a human story than a science fiction film, it is essentially about the power of memory, and its snapshot format captures the feel of a strongly remembered moment. This film is definitely a masterpiece and is not to be missed by the serious cineaste. (The American film 12 Monkeys was adapted from La Jetée, though the original is no doubt the superior piece of cinema.) --James DiGiovanna
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