|La Jetee and Twelve Monkeys.
How have two different directors, one French new wave and one Hollywood, approached the same story?
The film industry is split into three sections, first cinema, second cinema and third cinema. First cinema is the Hollywood film industry; these types of films are generally high budget, big cast/production, and special effects films. They usually generate huge incomes and are distributed worldwide, also known as ‘box office films.’ This film industry is where the money is at and features the highest paid actors, directors etc. The bafta’s is the world’s biggest film award ceremony and is mainly first cinema films that are up for these awards, although films like ‘the artist’ that could be described as a second cinema film have managed to break the mould in recent years. That brings me on to second cinema, which are English/European films; these films are grittier compared to first cinema and focus more on the storyline and character development than special effects to keep the audience engaged. This film industry is lower budget and production with the focus not entirely on income and hitting box office sales but more on the portrayal of a story. An example of a film festival, which promotes second cinema films, would be the Sundance film festival. Second cinema films are more localised and do not try to appeal to a worldwide audience. The last type of film industry is third cinema, these films are also known as ‘world cinema’ films and features film industries such as Bollywood, which is the Indian version of Hollywood. These can be high budget and high production films with Bollywood films making huge profits. They tend to be more regionalised though compared to Hollywood films and make the most of their money and sales through the country of origin.
French New Wave is a group of French filmmakers in the period of 1950’s and 1960’s who were known for their self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form. Many of the filmmakers engaged their works with social and political upheavals of the era using a documentary style of filming to portray the story. The films used long tracking shots and also featured existential themes, such as stressing the individual and the acceptance of the absurdity of human existence. These films were generally made on an extremely tight budget. Such filmmakers as Jean Luc Goddard and Chris Marker were considered pioneers of this type of film, with Alphaville and La jetee being some of the most converted French new wave films. These films have influenced many directors and showed the importance of character building, atmosphere and encouraged auteur directing allowing the director to influence the film and make his own stamp on it. The films were influenced in there self by Hollywood and also by the war, which often made the films darker and more depressing reflecting the period of time which the directors would have grown up in.
Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, America. Due to its fame and cultural identity as a historical centre for movie studios and actors it has been described as the epicentre of American Cinema. Since its first movie days in the 1900’s it has continued to develop with now most of the surrounding areas being used for pre/post production, editing etc. Hollywood films pride themselves on special effects and the idea of ‘epic’ movies, ones that blow you away with the sheer magnitude of the effects and enhanced cinematic shots. Films like Spiderman, The Avengers, and Batman etc. would be classed as Hollywood films. Personally I do like Hollywood films, I think most of them do leave you pretty amazed at the end of them about what filmmakers can produce with technology these days but I do still feel that its important that the film have a solid storyline to coincide with the special effects. Hollywood films have had a massive impact on cinema as its now not only about the actors, storyline its now about special effects and the visual side of the film which have improved, although some argue that this has had a negative impact on cinema, saying its now all about money and production rather than the quality of acting and storyline.
La Jetee is all about time travel, still images, a past, present and future and the aftermath of World War III. The tale of a man, a slave, sent back and forth, in and out of time, to find a solution to the world's fate. To replenish its decreasing stocks of food, medicine and energies, and in doing so, resulting in a perpetual memory of a lone female, life, death and past events that are recreated on an airports jetée. The Director of the film was Chris Marker (29th July 1921) known for being a unique film essayist with the genre being a short drama, romance and sci-fi. The film was given a rating of PG (Parental Guidance) and distributed mainly in France although then put into three languages after French, German and English. It was Released on the 16th February 1962 (France) and produced by Argos Films. The film is 28 minutes long with some of the main cast being Etienne Becker, Jean Negroni etc. The target audience for the film is really movie and art enthusiasts so with a smallish target audience it had a ‘shoe string budget’ as the film wouldn’t have been guaranteed much of an income. With the film almost entirely made with still photo’s with just one moving image the production team was extremely small, and the cast as well with only seven actors with two often playing the same character. Chris Marker was the director, writer and controlled cinematography, which only left for a producer, musician and an editor. The film left a huge legacy inspiring many films and directors including the film I’m going to talk about next ‘12 Monkeys.’
12 Monkeys is about an unknown and lethal virus that has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he's told was spread by a mysterious "Army of the 12 Monkeys") and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert.
The director of the film was Terry Gilliam (born 22cd November 1940) he is known for his philosophical background with his films being unique for there surrealness and unusual camera shots with the genre of this film being Mystery, Sci-Fi, and Thriller. The film was rated 15 and made in the USA with it being distributed worldwide with a wide target audience. It was Released on the 5th January 1996 (USA) and had a budget of $29,000,000 selling $167, 000,000 at the box office. Universal Pictures being 129 minutes long produced the film. The Cast for the film was Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, and Brad Pitt etc. The production team and cast were quite big with there being 14 main actors. The film was shot in Philadelphia and Baltimore under the guidance of Robert Kosberg who was a big fan and enthusiast of La Jetee, he managed to persuade Chris Marker (the director of La Jetee) to let him pitch the idea of a longer full length version to universal pictures. The filming took a couple of months and therefore needed a big production team with several locations the end result being a critically acclaimed money making film.
As you can see from the facts and figures above 12 Monkeys is all together a higher budget and production film than La Jetee, which was a film, made from optically printed photographs put together in a way to present a film so had no real budget or Box Office values. This leads on to who the films were made for La Jetee was made more for film enthusiasts and the art cinematography world so therefore the expectations of the film would be this with not a lot of high octane action and explosions etc. would have been expected. The film was also made in the ‘French new wave’ era which was a group of filmmakers who defied classical cinematic form in retaliation to the rise of Hollywood made films which were traditionally more action packed and had higher production values. Many engaged their work with political or social happenings of the time. The films were made in a documentary style and challenged realism with narrative ambiguity leaving the audience with questions not answered at the end. On the other hand 12 Monkeys would have had higher expectations with a higher budget and a bigger production team with well-known actors. The expectations for 12 Monkeys would have been for a special effects edge of the seat type of film to coincide with the target audience, which would have been to appeal to the masses.