Varda’s rumination on this art of “living off the leftovers of others” finds inspiration in both past and present, rural and urban, the political and the highly personal. Camera in hand, Varda interviews those for whom gleaning is a way of life, or an encompassing philosophy.
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"In a department store in Tokyo, on the top floor, there were Rembrandt paintings. This is Saskia up close, and then my hand up close, I mean, this is my project: to film with one hand my other hand. To enter in the horror of it. I find it extraordinary, I feel as if I am an animal. Worse, I am an animal I don't know. And here's Rembrandt self-portrait, but it's just the same in fact, always a self-portrait." 32:33
I can't believe I didn't review this already! Agnes Varda is fantastic. This film is great! At a screening I saw, someone asked her if when she was capturing lorries with her hand, it was like gleaning lorries and she said "No, I just did that for fun, so I kept it in the film. It has nothing to do with anything." Brilliant. And that's the best scene in the film!
internet itself is a huge, global field of gleaning, with vaguely legal moves in its territory. is it 5 kilos of oysters, is it 7GB of information? what would be poor man's hedonism without youtube concerts, pirate flicks and sounds, online galleries and Windows cracks?
So great to see all these people who aren't held by pride and who actually care for the things around them. And the free approach of Agnes Varda in bringing them together in one film is just delightful. It's so pleasant to just follow her around.
Varda offers up one of her most powerful and intimate essay style documentaries with this mature study of waste, survival, necessity and even aging. Over a tight 80 minute runtime she covers a lot of ground which some may find meandering but the message is crystal clear. ' A clock without hands is the kind of thing I like, you don't see time passing. ' 15 years on and just as powerful and moving as first watch.
The first Varda film I ever watched, and a documentary that blends personal touch and curiosity in a marvelous way. I love Varda's fascination with hands and how she often uses the camera to compartmentalize the body. The Gleaners & I is essential viewing.