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Four by Agnes Varda (La Pointe Courte / Cleo from 5 to 7 / Le bonheur / Vagabond) (The Criterion Collection)

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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. Later, with Le bonheur and Vagabond, Varda further shook up art-house audiences, challenging bourgeois codes with her inscrutable characters and 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. DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FOUR-DISC SET FEATURES:

New restored digital transfers, supervised and approved by director Agnès Varda
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
On Cléo from 5 to 7: a 2005 documentary on the making of the film; a short film from 2005 in which Varda retraces Cléo s steps through Paris; Varda speaking with Madonna about the film in 1993
On Le bonheur: new interviews with the three actors from the film; a 2006 discussion with four scholars about the film; footage of Varda on-set; 1998 interview with Varda; 2003 interviews on the concept of happiness
On Vagabond: a 2003 documentary on the making of the film; a 2003 interview with composer Joanna Bruzdowicz; a 1986 radio interview with writer Nathalie Sarraute; a 2003 interview with actress Marthe Jarnias
Theatrical trailers
New and improved English subtitle translations
PLUS: New essays by Chris Darke, Adrian Martin, Amy Taubin, and Ginette Vincendeau; plus, a foreword on each film by Varda herself

Amazon.com

4 by Agnes Varda is one of Criterion Collection's finest releases, so packed is it with supplementary material. Each of the four films included in the set have illuminating critical essay accompaniments and at least three additional bits on their prospective DVDs ranging from the "remembrances" of cast and crew to amazing interviews with Varda from various decades. Of course, the films are in themselves quite extraordinary, but this package collects together so much enlightening footage and reading that to comb through it is like taking a Varda history class. It is difficult to choose favorites amongst the four films included: La Pointe Courte (1956), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Le Bonheur (1965), and Vagabond (1985). Each illustrates rigorous experimental challenges, and each film succeeds according to its own set of criteria. Perhaps the most exciting two films in the set, simply because fewer viewers may have seen them, are La Pointe Courte and Le Bonheur. La Pointe Courte, Varda's first film and the film attributed to launching the French New Wave, stars Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret who bring a stark formalism to the story of their conflicted love in a scenic seaside village. Shot in high contrast black and white, La Pointe Courte is filled with odd visual and sonic edits that lend this film an otherworldly, Carl Dreyer-esque quality though it points to Varda's future directing tact, namely making films that scrutinize tragic personal relationships with deep compassion and zeal. Le Bonheur, filmed in a vivid primary color palette, similarly features a married couple, François (Jean-Claude Drouot) and Therese (Claire Drouot), who experience both bliss and utter sadness within the film's timeframe. In this case, the sense of isolation is replaced by an overload of happiness, namely when François cheats on his wife with a young postal worker (Marie-France Boyer) and finds himself so happy that the viewer suspects it cannot last.

The two abovementioned films contextualize Cléo from 5 to 7 and Vagabond, both films starring strong females who face life with bravery and finesse. Filmed in "real-time," Cléo from 5 to 7 stars a young pop singer (Corinne Marchand) whose wit and sex appeal carry her through a fearful day, while Vagabond recounts the end of ravishing Mona's (Sandrine Bonnaire), life as a vagrant in search of freedom. Seeing La Pointe Courte, for example, foreshadows Varda's breakthrough casting of non-actors in Vagabond. Filmic experiments and acting experiments abound in each film. On the whole, it becomes clear that each crew member on a Varda film enters a new artistic world forged by this auteur, aimed at exploring daily life to uncover those moments encompassing sadness, hope, and beauty with grace, character, and exquisite technique. --Trinie Dalton


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Directors: Agnes Varda
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Restored, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: January 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 345 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XQ4HQO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,453 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Four by Agnes Varda (La Pointe Courte / Cleo from 5 to 7 / Le bonheur / Vagabond) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Cléo de cinq à sept (Agnès Varda, 1962)

After Jacques Demy's Lola, his wife's Agnès Varda's Cléo de cinq à sept (1962), is the second Nouvelle Vague Rive gauche (Left Bank of the Seine River) production review, to be followed by Alain Resnais' La guerre est finie (1966), and finally short films by Rive gauche auteurs (Marker, Varda and Resnais).

There is a famous production shot of Cléo: The heroine on a bed in her studio, attended by about twelve men (technicians und beauticians at all levels), behind her Agnès Varda at the camera. So what appears as a first woman's movie is actually still in the man's world of the movies, where women are just the stars. I do not remember how women's lib reacted to it, but it remains an amazing film, and Agnès Varda, a very feminine figure, an exception to the rule. It also gives us a view of pre-1968 Paris, and is a deeply personal, never voyeuristic event.

Cléo, in a way like High Noon, the Western (Fred Zinnemann, 1952), is a real time movie, from five to seven. The lead, intelligently played by beautiful Corinne Marchand, is a singer who, this late afternoon, in understandable anxiety, awaits her specialist doctor's verdict on a detailed cancer test. With her servant and a friend, she runs various errands to kill time, visits a fortune teller, and, finally, is on her walk through Paris towards the hospital to collect the doctor's verdict. She is accompanied by a soldier on leave from the Algerian war, a chance meeting. The doctor's verdict is clear, but he sees considerable chances to heal by treatment.
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I had not heard of Agnes Varda before I ordered this Criterion collection. I had seen Vagabond on cable and liked it but did not know that she was the director. Thus I was amazed at the originality and beauty of these four films, remastered by Criterion. Each film, dating from 1955 to 1985, is unique and compelling.
Varda is now making documentaries. I just watched The Gleaners and I and also highly recommend it.
The Criterion set has many interesting interviews that make the collection more valuable.
I note that a volume 2 of Varda films is available, but only in PAL and region 2. I look forward to a release of volume 2 in a region 1 format.
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If You like Varda, or the french new wave, or french film, then this box is well worth buying. My favourite films of the four are Cleo and Le Bonheur. Lots of extra material, and the box is well designed.
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A beautiful collection of four beautiful films, by one of the most important French directors of the twentieth century.
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