Showing posts tagged Agnes Varda

"A woman on the road is also sexual prey. She’s not understood: people wonder if she’s on the road because she hasn’t found a man - not only homeless and foodless, but manless…I wanted to deal with the subject as the subject is. You bump into her, know nothing about her, and all you can catch is what she is now. As a writer, I chose to forget about the writer’s position and acknowledge that I don’t know or understand her totally. I invented a character who eludes me.”

— Agnes Varda on writing Mona, the protagonist in Vagabond

Still from Vagabond (1985, dir. Agnes Varda)

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"We separated for a while in the 80s, but we got back together and we wanted to age together – I think people feel the frustration of not being able to do that. I’m ageing alone because I had the pain of losing him and seeing him die. People have experienced that and they know that it can hurt you – but also that life brings you to love life."
— Agnès Varda on losing her husband, Jacques Demy, and the emotional impact of her film, The Beaches of Agnes (2008)

Still of Agnès Varda & Jacques Demy via french cinema

"We separated for a while in the 80s, but we got back together and we wanted to age together – I think people feel the frustration of not being able to do that. I’m ageing alone because I had the pain of losing him and seeing him die. People have experienced that and they know that it can hurt you – but also that life brings you to love life."

— Agnès Varda on losing her husband, Jacques Demy, and the emotional impact of her film, The Beaches of Agnes (2008)

Still of Agnès Varda & Jacques Demy via french cinema

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"I don’t like violent films, but this one is such a sweet nightmare. It bounces around like a ping pong ball. He’s a good director, Mr. Scorsese."

— Agnes Varda on After Hours

Stills from After Hours (1985, dir. Martin Scorsese)

"They called me ‘The Ancestor of the New Wave’ when I was only 30. I had seen very few films, which, in a way, gave me both the naivety and the daring to do what I did."

— Agnes Varda

One part is conceptualizing and ordering the world, and the other is accepting the world as it is. These two things together shape the visual arts.
I don’t believe in inspiration that arrives like a bolt from the blue - if it doesn’t also arise from your body and your immediate lived experience. That’s why I always refer to ‘subjective documentary’. It seems to me that the more motivated I am by what I film, the more objectively I film.
Agnes Varda doing her thing. LOVE this.

Agnes Varda doing her thing. LOVE this.

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Okay, how did I not watch Le bonheur until now? 

One of Agnes Varda’s most unsettling films, Le bonheur (1965) is edited in two styles.  For the main character’s (Francois) relationship with his wife, we see long, fluid tracking shots that are almost entirely shot outside in nature and convey a disturbing lack of conflict  And for Francois’s relationship with his mistress, we see quick cutting and many shot reverse shots, which for the most part are contained to interior scenes.

However, it’s not so much the contrast of these two relationships as it is their eventual similarity, that is at the heart of this film.  In the final scene, we hear a piece by Mozart and see our protagonist’s family at a picnic shot with those now familiar sweeping tracking shots.  The scene is almost an exact replica of the scene at the very beginning of Le bonheur - save for one thing - the mistress has taken the place of the wife.

I’m always curious to know how a script for a film like this reads because so much of its meaning is conveyed in visual and aural cues.  The inciting incident, as its known in scriptwriting, is nowhere to be found in Le bonheur, there is no climactic argument, and there is no resolution. But the film really gets underneath your skin, precisely because it’s devoid of all the familiar signposts of conflict and drama.  It’s a testament to Varda’s tremendous skill as a filmmaker, and a reminder to me, to consistently test the boundaries of cinematic language.

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Director Agnès Varda on the set of Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), one of my all-time favorite films.  I wrote a little thing about it here.

Director Agnès Varda on the set of Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), one of my all-time favorite films.  I wrote a little thing about it here.

(Source: behindtheillusions)

Get your Friday on.  Btw, how cool does Ms. Varda look in this photo?

Agnes Varda in China, 1957

(Source: shihlun)