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As artful and impressive as Marker's short film was, I simply have a great deal of affection for Gilliam's TWELVE MONKEYS. I would never argue it was better, but I'd sooner recommend it.
I actually would argue it's better; as well as La Jetee was constructed, and as beautiful as Marker's images are, the still photography construction grated on me after a while. Cold narration over stills reminds me of a Powerpoint presentation, not a movie, and even the most elegant Powerpoint show is no match for a well-made Gilliam film.
While I liked both, Twelve Monkeys really got to explore the concept. In La Jetee, the ending is too rushed and just feels like a throw away.
Cosign the Admiral.
I like the Gilliam film quite a bit, but I do think it hasn't aged well. La Jetee has so many striking images and compositions and haunts my memory to this day, more so than 12 Monkeys ever could.
I think the still photo format is ideal for a movie so concerned with memories as pictures rather than as scenes in motion. I didn't really dig the weird tonal shifts in 12 Monkeys, either, even though it's pretty typical Gilliam.
Didn't love La Jetee, but it's unique as hell.
La Jetee was fascinating to watch although the ending did feel a little rushed compared to Twelve Monkeys. Altogether La Jetee is the better choice though
I don't think 12 Monkeys would exist without La Jetee, they have very similar plot points at times. Despite it being so influential, it still loses to 12 Monkeys.
FYI: both films share the same writer, Chris Marker.