La Jetée is one heady trip. A 30-minute short film made by Chris Marker in 1962, it tells a story of apocalypse, time travel, love and fate, all in a very unconventional, pretentious style—still shots are substituted for live action, and in contrasty black-and-white. I found it a bit of a chore to sit through, but I wanted to see it because it’s the inspiration for one of my favorite science-fiction movies, Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys.
And that’s kind of the point of “Notable Shorts That Became Features,” presented by the UNLV Film Department and the UNLV Short Film Archive. Whether it’s inspiration from an earlier film or an abbreviated version of a cash-strapped filmmaker’s vision, feature films owe a tremendous debt to shorts. In addition to La Jetée, other shorts include George Lucas’ 1967 Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, which later became THX 1138; Jared Hess’ 2003 Peluca, which became Napoleon Dynamite; and Peter Sollett’s Five Feet High and Rising, which became Raising Victor Vargas.
If you’re a fan of any of these films, you owe it to yourself to see where they got started.