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M Entries
  Patrick Macnee
  Antonio Margheriti
  Chris Marker
  Hugh Marlowe
  William Marshall
  Arlene Martel
  Ross Martin
  Richard Matheson
  Sir Paul McCartney
  Roddy McDowall
  Leo McKern
  Lee Meriwether
  Ricardo Montalban
  Agnes Moorhead
  Billy Mumy
  Eddie Murphy
(1921– ). French artist and director.

Directed: La Jetée (1962).

Film based on his work: 12 Monkeys (Terry GILLIAM 1995).

In a career otherwise devoted to distinctive documentary films, Chris Marker has made one astonishing contribution to science fiction film: his short film La Jetée [The Pier]. The story it presents is not overly remarkable, by science fiction standards: a man living in a decimated and totalitarian future world is haunted by his childhood memory of seeing a woman on a pier; because that vivid memory keeps him focused on the past, he is chosen to participate in an experimental effort to physically return to the past, energized by his memory, to possibly seek assistance from the untroubled people of the past; he finally succeeds in returning to the pier, only to discover that the woman he remembered was watching his own murder. With the exception of one brief moment of apparent movement, the story is entirely conveyed by a succession of still pictures, which is not only an impressive technical achievement but also a powerful reflection of one major theme in the film: that we often perceive the past not as filmic movements, but as a series of unmoving photographs. And it is precisely the protagonist's talent for viewing the past in this fashion that makes him the ideal candidate for a desperate attempt to save the human race by drawing upon its past. Yet, as the film demonstrates, that vision of and obsession with still images also is ultimately self-destructive, since a breakdown in the movement of time is the major threat to the protagonist's present, and since it is his fixation on one image that finally kills the narrator. When we cannot recognize or accept the motion of life, we become motionless, or dead; hence the film's controlling metaphor of the pier, a motionless platform over a restless ocean—flat, sterile, and painfully separated from the lively waters.

If I continued in this vein, I might begin to sound like a French film critic, which is not exactly my usual style, but I hope to suggest that La Jetée is a film that can be watched many times with fascination while it suggests many unrealized possibilities in science fiction film and visually presents many ideas of the greatest relevance to science fiction film. Indeed, while David PEOPLES's adaptation of La Jetée, 12 Monkeys, is a very fine film in its own right, it is a compliment to Marker's vision that the newer version, while longer and more intricately plotted, seems a truncation, not an expansion, of the original short film, emphasizing its political paranoia but ignoring its other nuances. No other entry in this volume is devoted to someone whose entire contribution to the genre lasts twenty-nine minutes, but no other person in this volume is more deserving of an entry.

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