Spatial dialectic and political poetics in Agnès Varda's expatriate cinema

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Abstract:

Agnès Varda has been an important figure in French and European cinema for over fifty years. Her work is often discussed in the context of new wave cinema and feminist approaches to film. Her expatriate films, however, have received little critical attention. An appraisal of Mur, murs (1980) and Documenteur (1981), both shot in California in the late 1970s, provides unique insight into Varda's cinema. An analysis of the locational modus operandi of the Californian diptych demonstrates the aesthetic coherence of the director's project, helping to situate these films within Varda's cinematographic production. A detailed examination of the diptych's aural qualities also illustrates Varda's revisionist and political poetics and provides an interesting example of the way Varda explores the notion of space. Looking at these films carefully helps us understand the importance of adopting a comprehensive and self-reflexive perspective when studying women's cinema and its many different facets.

Keywords: AGNÈS VARDA; CALIFORNIA; DOCUMENTARY; DOCUMENTEUR; FEMINISM; MUR, MURS; POETICS; POLITICS; SOUNDSCAPE; SPACE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/jrs.2009.090206

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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