La Jetée is the short film (shy of half an hour) from 1962 upon which 12 monkeys is based; click on the image above to see the film on Google video. For some reason I hadn’t seen this before, which is odd since I like 12 monkeys very much, so it was good to remedy that deficiency.
It is a nice experimental piece, most of it a photomontage with a short shot (it is introduced as a photo-roman). There is a voice-over narration that tells us of a war and of the experiments of the survivors with time travel (the way time travel is used is significantly different from how it is in 12 monkeys). The winners of the war are German, and there are short bits of dialogue in German, doctors dealing with their test subjects.
It was nice to see that the reference to Vertigo is already present here. Other than that, the plot of 12 monkeys is actually significantly different even if there are obviously recognizable benchmarks; La Jetée is concerned with memory and identity, and thus with subjectivity. I am glad I finally got the chance to experience it.