There is a question I pose during the episode: if anyone who disparaged the French New Wave started with Cléo from 5 to 7 (Varda, 1962), might they feel differently about the movement? I think so. If you are looking for a place to begin pretty much any film journey, start here. Whether it is an exploration of female directors, films of the 1960s, or the long career of writer/director Agnès Varda, start with this effervescent, fresh, and expertly realized exploration of 120 crucial minutes in one woman’s life.
Agnès Varda set herself apart from her filmmaking colleagues not only by being the lone woman among a sea of men, but with her mature approach to the subject matter and her photographer’s eye for detail and composition. Varda said that she loved to capture those people we don’t know so well. She showed us a beautiful woman we think we know, one we may instinctively write off. Instead, we follow as Varda leads Cléo and us on a spiritual journey to strip away our assumptions and her vanity. With something as simple as the removal of a wig, a declaration of freedom is made. A woman who had been seen as just an object finds the possibility of joy, hope, and love.
What you’ll find in this episode: the tenets of, and players in, the Left Bank movement, whether it is lazy to call Varda the mother or godmother of any movement, and why the city of Paris is always a great character in a film.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Cléo from 5 to 7 on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Vagabond.
Cole’s further viewing pick of The Gleaners & I.
The Yé-yé Music Movement of the 60’s.
Agnès Varda on Radical Filmmaking.