Death and the Image

Robert Capa's "the Falling Soldier" meets Chris Marker's echo

a retinalecho between Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier” and Chris Marker’s Jetee

The photograph by Capa is the Urimage, the picture calcified by our gaze, become an icon to worship. It is the image of death itself in the modern time. Death by bullet. Death by camera. The sedimentation of history refuses our perception of this immobile instant. We do not see a man in the moment of his passage over the threshold, but rather a grassy hill, an arm thrown back, a defiance of gravity, an instant in which the figure wishes to become one with his shadow.

La Jetée’s figure, the cinematic one, is the idealization of the first image, or perhaps its transubstantiation. Our position has changed from that of spectator to that of a revolutionary. The dying man is now a comrade, and we are no longer bystanders, but fight on his side, us too inhabited by images of our past. His hand thrown out, grasping nothing, is not a human hand but a cyborg one, a hand grasping towards future. In the intimate gaze of the woman who watches and loves (who loves and remembers), we see not only the death of man, but also his rebirth. She sees perhaps another man, has perhaps another memory, another image than the one we retain. And her regard is both its counter-image and its incantation, adding a promise of resurrection to this prevision of the fall.


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