4 By Agnes Varda (DVD)
Agnès 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, long before creating one of the movement's benchmarks, Cléo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7). Later, with Le bonheur and Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi), Varda further shook up art-house audiences, challenging bourgeois codes with her inscrutable characters and offering effortlessly beautiful compositions and editing. Now working largely as a documentarian, Varda remains one of the essential cinematic poets of our time and a true visionary.
FILMS IN THIS SET:
La Pointe Courte (1955)
The great Agnès Varda's film career began with this graceful, penetrating study of a marriage on the rocks, set against the backdrop of a small Mediterranean fishing village. Both a stylized depiction of the complicated relationship between a married couple (played by Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret) and a documentary-like look at the daily struggles of the locals, Varda's discursive, gorgeously filmed debut was radical enough to later be considered one of the progenitors of the coming French New Wave.
Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)
Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.
Le bonheur (1965)
Though married to the good-natured, beautiful Thérèse (Claire Drouot), young husband and father François (Jean-Claude Drouot) finds himself falling unquestioningly into an affair with an attractive postal worker. One of Agnès Varda's most provocative films, Le bonheur examines, with a deceptively cheery palette and the spirited strains of Mozart, the ideas of fidelity and happiness in a modern, self-centered world.
Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César for her portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona, found frozen to death in a ditch at the beginning of Vagabond. Agnès Varda pieces together Mona’s story through flashbacks told by those who encountered her (played by a largely nonprofessional cast), producing a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. With its sparse, poetic imagery, Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) is a stunner, and won Varda the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored digital transfers
- Three short films by Varda: L’opéra Mouffe (1958), Du côté de la côte (1958), and Les fiancés du pont Macdonald (1961)
- On La Pointe Courte: new video interview with Varda; excerpts from a 1964 episode of the television series Cinéastes de notre temps, in which Varda discusses her early career
- On Cléo from 5 to 7: documentary from 2005 on the making of the film; 2005 short film retracing Cléo’s steps through Paris; Varda speaking with Madonna about the film in 1993
- On Le bonheur: 2006 featurettes with the three actors from the film; discussion about the film from 2006 between four intellectuals; footage of Varda on set; 1998 interview with Varda
- On Vagabond: 2003 documentary on the making of the film; conversation from 2003 between Varda and composer Joanna Bruzdowicz; 1986 radio interview with Varda and writer Nathalie Sarraute, who inspired the film
- Theatrical trailers
- PLUS: New essays by Chris Darke, Adrian Martin, Amy Taubin, and Ginette Vincendeau, as well as a foreword by Varda on each film
- New covers by Neil Kellerhouse