Jesse's Reviews > Agnes Varda

Agnes Varda by Alison Smith
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's review
Oct 24, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: my-film-books

Full disclosure: I consider the author of this book a personal friend.

But friend or not, this is, to the best of my knowledge, the only comprehensive study of the venerable "Grande dame of the Nouvelle Vague" currently available in English, which automatically renders it an invaluable resource. And it certainly helps that my own interests in Varda's work—her not-always-obvious feminism, the concept of cinécriture, her reoccurring interest in time, memory, and personal subjectivity—parallel Alison's, and it is these topics, among several others, that are examined in particular detail throughout the book. But what I found especially valuable is the way that Alison locates how these connective topical strands can be traced through all of Varda's diverse filmography, and time is spent analyzing not only Varda's major works (Cléo de 5 à 7, Vagabond and La pointe courte), but also her lesser known and often unavailable documentaries, documentary shorts, television work and Hollywood films, many which provide integral instances of development in Varda's ideology and aesthetics through the years.

The one real drawback, and it's admittedly of no fault of the author's, is that the book was published in 1998, a lull period that seemed to indicate a closing to Varda's career: 2000, however and happily, brought the release of The Gleaners and I, now one of Varda's most popular films, and seemed to inspire a burst of cinematic activity that has lasted until the present (her current film is in theaters now). So inevitably a major and essential chunk of Varda's filmography is missing from this analysis, many which demonstrate even more development of Varda's pet themes. But even as is this is an informative and approachable study, and absolutely essential for any serious (or even not-so-serious) study of Varda's work.
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message 1: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Awesome! I love Varda, so I'll definitely have to check this out.

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