The Agnes Varda Collection: Volume 1 DVD
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Directed by Agnes Varda
Produced in 1954-2000
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Agnès Varda is the godmother of the nouvelle vague and this is a superb introduction to an extraordinary career that now stretches over half a century.
Released in 1954, La Pointe Courte is widely acknowledged as the first film of the French New Wave. Its debt to neo-realism is evident in Paul Soulignac and Louis Stein's candid footage of the Mediterranean fishermen struggling to make a living in the face of a contamination scare. But Varda opts for a discordantly stagy approach in chronicling returning native Philippe Noiret's naive bid to rescue his marriage to chic Parisian Silvia Monfort. This jarring juxtaposition (reinforced by editor Alain Resnais) emphasises the filmicness of the action and Varda proved equally experimental with Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962), which rigorously avoided narrative linearity as cinematographer Jean Rabier follows Corinne Marchand through the streets of Paris, as she chat with strangers and even breaks into song with Michel Legrand to pass the time while awaiting the results of some medical tests. There's even a film-within-the film starring Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.
Alternating between features and documentaries, Varda endured mixed fortunes in France and the United States over the next few years.
Subsisting in the lower depths was proving no easier by the time Varda made the exceptional documentary, Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse, in 2000. By establishing the historical precedent for salvaging discarded items for survival, pleasure and creativity, Varda imparts some dignity to the hand-to-mouth existence of her subjects. However, the canvases by Van Gogh, Breton and Millet and extracts from such film classics as Alexander Dovzhenki's Earth (1930) cannot disguise the ignominy of the gleaners' daily struggles or Varda's dismay at a civilisation that wastes as blithely as it marginalises.
David Parkinson on 1st September 2009
Author of 243 reviews
Four films from the great French director. Features La Pointe Courte (1954), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962), Le Bonheur (1965) and Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (2000).
Agnes Varda used the skills she honed early in her career as a photographer to create some of the most nuanced, thought-provoking films of the past fifty years. She is widely believed to have presaged the French new wave with her first film, La Pointe Courte, which is featured here in this collection of her most prestigious work.
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 5th October 2009
Cat No: ART460DVD
- 4 discs.