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Monthly Archives: March 2019

Agnès Varda

It’s with heavy hearts that film lovers around the world lament the passing of Agnès Varda, a great filmmaker and by nearly all accounts delightful and gentle soul who’s left behind a bold, lively, and endearing body of work. Her 1985 feature Vagabond is one of my ten favorite films—full stop. It’s an uncommonly rich and well directed portrait of a young homeless woman and the people she meets in her final days as she makes her way through a sleepy coastal vacation town at the onset of winter. I’ve seen a lot of movies and narrative cinema doesn’t get much better in my book, but where Varda’s filmography is concerned Vagabond is just the tip of the iceberg. The third chapter of a novel I’m currently writing makes reference to Varda’s underrated effort Kung-Fu Master!, characterizing it as a controversial film that had to be handled with just the right degree of finesse and sensitivity, implying that otherwise the whole thing would’ve fallen apart or seemed like a stunt or mere provocation. This is just one aspect that set Varda apart from the average filmmaker, her ability to navigate her narratives with a gracefulness and fresh vantage point that made her work always feel inviting, regardless of the “difficulty” of a given film’s subject matter. Varda rose to prominence in the mid to late fifties along with a host of other filmmakers related in some way to France’s Nouvelle Vague, but in contrast to her more “prickly” still-living contemporary Jean-Luc Godard, she was very sociable for someone of her stature, even in her final years, where she found acceptance among Hollywood movie stars and mainstream directors, among others. I could go on about what a loss her passing is for cinema, but really Varda’s contribution to film (whether as a feminist, an “art house” giant, or a writer-director period) is such a wonderful thing that I think it’s best to instead celebrate her life and the singular path she took. She was a visionary no doubt, a courageous artist. Rest in peace, Agnès.

Agnès Varda