In the Hand of a Camerawoman

There are several ways one could talk about Agnes Varda’s short films. The first would be to follow chronological order: O Saisons, o chateaux, shot in autumn 1957, Opera Mouffe last spring, and Du cote de la Cote last summer, the uneven ones being in color, subsidized by some Ministry or other and shown at Tours. One could also say that O Saisons, o chateaux represents poetry by way of a Ronsardin aestetic, Opera Mouffe, the theatre through its Breichtian approach, and Du cote de la Cote iliterature through its Proustian title, not belied by its image from Giradoux. But insteas of seeking the differences, let us instead seek analogies and note the common feature of Agnes’s shorts, their chief characteristic, which enables them to escape the aesthetic fix I was talking about.

They are to the cinema as a akretch is to a painting and an outline to a novel. They are above all journals, on each page of which irony makes a triple somersault to land on the following page at the feet of beauty, luxury or delight. A ship’s long as Agnes Varda cruises along the Loire, and a journal of a woman of the world, too, casting a wary eye on the dungeos of Bois, the trees of Tours, the stones of Azay-le-Rideau. An intimate diary as she strolls, pregnant, from Debfert to Contrescape. And finally, the journal of a woman of wit as she roams between Nice and Saint-Tropez, sending us a postcard with each shot in reply to her friend Chris Marker.

(Godard on Godard, 1972)