This strange and poetic film, directed by Chris Marker, is a fusion of science fiction, psychological fable and photomontage, and creates in its unique way a series of potent images of the inner landscapes of time. Apart from a brief three-second sequence — a young woman’s hesitant smile, a moment of extraordinary poignancy, like a fragment of a child’s dream — the thirty-minute film is composed entirely of still photographs. Yet this succession of disconnected images is a perfect means of projecting the quantified memories and movements through time that are the film’s subject matter.
This familiar theme [time travel] is treated with remarkable finesse and imagination, its symbols and perspectives continually reinforcing the subject matter. Not once does it make use of the time-honoured conventions of traditional science fiction. Creating its own conventions from scratch, it triumphantly succeeds where science fiction invariably fails.
(J.G. Ballard ‘La Jetée: Academy One’, New Worlds, 1966, quoted here from Simon Sellars, Chris Marker: Imperfect Memory in The Ballardian)Watch La Jetée here.