Watch La Jetee: The Inspiraton For 12 Monkeys (And Likely Terminator)

Who would ever figure that a 28-minute film, comprised entirely of black and white still shots and voice-over narration, would go on to serve as the foundation for a major Hollywood production? In the case of Chris Marker’s 1962 work La Jetée, it most likely inspired two.

La Jetée is, at its core, a story about time and change. A man lives through a catastrophic war in which everyone is forced to live underground and through the magic of science, the same man, now a prisoner, is picked to travel back in time to try and prevent the decline of the world. From there the protagonist begins his quest. Terry Gilliam has been very explicit that he borrowed heavily from La Jetée’s story line in making the film 12 Monkeys and many a film critic suspects that James Cameron also borrowed from the story in making The Terminator. Heavy as it may be, it’s short and sweet.