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The Gleaners and I

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Varda trains her ever-seeking eye on "gleaners," those who pick at already- harvested fields for the odd potato or turnip, who insist on finding a use for what society has determined it has no use for. Her investigation leads us from forgotten corners of the French countryside to off-hours at the green markets in Paris where her diverse and resourceful subjects share their life styles and choices. Varda's own ruminations on her life as a filmmaker (a gleaner of sorts), gives her a connection to her subjects that creates a touching human portrait that the L.A. Weekly called "a protest film that's part social critique, part travelogue, but always an unsentimental celebration of human resilience.

Special Features

  • Agnès Varda's exclusive 60-minute sequel THE GLEANERS AND I: TWO YEARS LATER
  • Production notes by Varda
  • Varda filmography
  • Liner notes by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott
  • Optional English subtitles for both films
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer disc

Product Details

  • Actors: François Wertheimer, Agnès Varda, Bodan Litnanski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Unknown), French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 23, 2002
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005Y727
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,946 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Gleaners and I" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 4, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful documentary that reminds us of how much we produce and waste in the world and how the disenfranchised (and artistic) make use of that waste to survive. The scenes of tons of dumped potatoes and discarded food at the open air markets are remarkable as well as the gleaning laws France has on its books...its this whole underworld of gleaning I found so compelling. The characters Varda encounters are equally compelling and interestingly are not portrayed as whiny or blameful of others for their situations: they simply state how they live and we are left impressed with their ingenuity.
At times the film moves slowly as Varda includes some personal shots related to her aging and trucks passing by on the highway, but these moments of introspection are quiet pauses and do not detract from the whole of the film. The DVD has a bonus hour- long "Two Years Later" film that revisits some of the people we first met and is equally enjoyable. All in all, this is a documentary that is eye-opening and respectful of its subject.
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Format: DVD
The explicit subject matter of this film is "gleaning": the long-standing but currently threatened practice of taking up and making one's own what others leave behind. On that subject alone Agnes Varda has created a remarkable documentary, that covers the history of gleaning, its legal aspects, the wide variety of gleaning practices, and most importantly the people who glean for a number of reasons, not all of which have to do with poverty or destitution.

What interests me most about the documentary, however, is the way in which Varda connects her own practice as a filmmaker to the practice of gleaning. After all filmmaking and especially documentary filmmaking depend upon and take up the remains of reality, that aspect of reality that can be taken for free, and the taking of which does not diminish the possession of its owners. In that sense, filmmaking is essentially gleaning, and in arguing for the rights of gleaners, Varda is also providing a defense of her own practices. What is nice about her involvement in the film is that while she is always present, and while she includes herself among the gleaners presented in the film, she does not in any way push herself upon the viewer. As much as I love the films of recent auteur documentarians such as Moore and Spurlock, there is something very refreshing about the way in which Varda makes her presence felt in this film.

What is perhaps even more remarkable about the film than this provocative analogy is the way in which her film subtly raises questions about the nature of film and responds to a long-standing debate on this topic. There are two major strands of thinking about what is distinctive of film. One is the tradition of thinking (e.g.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Quite simply, this was easily my favorite film released in 2001. The filmmaker Varda takes an immensely thoughtful look at contemporary gleaning practices and compares them to the gleaners of the past, particularly those potato field pickers seen in the famed Millet painting. Of great note is her use of digital video and how she considers this medium as a form of gleaning as well in that one can easily pick and choose among the remains ones collects in the camera. Lurking near the surface always are the concepts of age and decay, made all the more heartfelt by the aging filmmaker who pauses often to consider her advancing years.
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One of Agnes varda's best films, created using a small digutal camera, as she documents the lives of the scavengers in France who live on the stuff that other people throw out. Compassionate, brilliantly composed, and widely distributed around the world (except in the US, where only mainstream junk receives any real distribution), this is a brief, funny and epigrammatic film that any real lover of cinema should check out. Varda is the forgotten founder of the French New Wave, and she is finally attaining some measure of the respect she deserves. Along with VAGABOND, this is one of Varda's very best works.
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Format: DVD
I "gleaned" this French jewel from the shelves of our library DVD collection. And I'm glad I did.

This film is rich in texture, deep in multiple meanings, provides a variety of real characters, a visual feast of various regions of France and how the act of gleaning is as alive today as when the famous paintings were made centuries ago.

It has given me a new appreciation for the "scrounging" that I, and others I know, have done over the years. I think from now on I'll always refer to it as "gleaning."

People and situations will look different to me because I've seen this film. The gleaners are all around us. Now they are no longer invisible.
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Format: DVD
At one point in this unusual and very interesting documentary by French New Wave director Agnes Varda (born, 1928!) she ties it together by showing art made from "gleaned" articles--that is, trash thrown away and made into objects of art by artists.

Of course it is trite to recall that "one man's trash is another man's treasure," but it is so. How dearly archeologists love ancient midden sites, and how much we can learn about the ancients from their trash. But Varda is here to show us that we can also learn a lot about modern people from what they throw away, and from what is gleaned, and from the gleaners themselves. I thought the guy who ate (grazed almost) as he went through the market place after closing was interesting. Clearly going through the trash is something instinctive with humans: no doubt it comes from our prehistoric past when we were hunters and gatherers.

The main focus here is on gleaning fruits and vegetables left behind by mechanized pickers. It is interesting to note that there are laws going back hundreds of years that regulate gleaners. (Varda puts a French lawyer on camera to quote some relevant law.) I was fascinated to see that there are dumpster divers in France. In America dumpster diving has been a big deal since at least the sixties. Today there are Web sites devoted to dumpster diving, and I personally know some people who dumpster dive for fun and profit. It was also interesting to see just which fruits and vegetable are gleaned from the ground and from the trees and vines and plants left after the harvest, and to hear from the people who do the gleaning. Varda shows mounds of potatoes left behind, and we learn that both potatoes too small and potatoes too big are discarded by the producers.
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