Posted by: ckckred | March 30, 2019

R.I.P. Agnès Varda

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Agnès Varda circa 1985 on set for Vagabond, courtesy of CNN

Who is the greatest figure of the Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave?  Most people would likely select Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut, undoubtedly the two most iconic and influential auteurs of the movement.  Others may choose someone less well-known internationally like Jacques Rivette or Éric Rohmer.* Although I’d have difficulty choosing who was the best director, I’d have no problem picking my favorite: Agnès Varda.

Commonly deemed as the “mother” of the French New Wave, primarily that her use of location shooting and non-professional actors almost certainly influenced the filmmakers that succeeded her, Varda’s films like La Pointe CourteCléo from 5 to 7, and Vagabond dealt with feminism and societal inequality within the contemporary world, while modern essay films like The Gleaners and I (selected by Sight & Sound as the 8th greatest documentary ever made), The Beaches of Agnès, and Faces Places harnessed digital photography and a collage-esque format to reflect upon Varda’s own legacy.  “The tool of every self-portrait is the mirror,” Varda once declared.  “You see yourself in it. Turn it the other way, and you see the world”

Varda passed away yesterday at age 90 due to complications from cancer.  Although she has departed this world, her legacy will live on forever.

*That is not to argue that those two are lesser filmmakers than Godard or Truffuat, but to suggest that many viewers may not be as familiar with Paris Belongs to Us or My Night at Maud’s as with Breathless or The 400 Blows.

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Responses

  1. You know I need to watch some of her films, I haven’t seen any which is a little pathetic haha. Not even Faces Places, I should put that on now, its been on my hard drive for months

    • Definitely check her work out; her recent docs are a good way to start. I initially didn’t like Cleo from 5 to 7 very much but watching it again I think it’s a stunning film.


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