“If you open people, you’ll find landscapes. If you open me, you’ll find beaches.”
When one thinks of the major figures of postwar cinema, the name of Agnes Varda immediately springs to mind. Her body of work is defined by a wealth of innovation and imagination. Her new film, a moving contemplation of her life an career, is a reminder that there are few artists capable of such eloquence in cinema.
Varda takes beaches as her point of departure. Though she was not born near the ocean, she would travel to the seaside every Easter and summer during her childhood, and her memories of these trips act as a springboard for the film’s meditation on her early life. She recalls her wartime exile to the coastal village of Sete as a period of endless fun and life jackets. While a young adult, Varda began her career as a photographer before raising a family with her husband, Jacques Demy (best known for Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) and eventually turning to filmmaking. Returning to Sete over a decade after the end of the war, she used to locate and its fisherman as the backdrop for her remarkable first feature film, La Pointe courte.
“Varda weaves photographs, vintage footage, scenes from her films and present-day sequences into a memorable voyage through her life. It is a singular trip played out against the exciting context of the postwar explosion of cultural expression in France. Idiosyncratic, engaging and deeply moving, Les Plages d’Agnes is the autobiography of a magnificent artist and a woman of vital curiosity.”