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The Beaches of Agnès (2008)

Les plages d'Agnès (original title)
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Agnès Varda explores her memories, mostly chronologically, with photographs, film clips, interviews, reenactments, and droll, playful contemporary scenes of her narrating her story.

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11 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An intimate, picaresque inquiry into French life as lived by the country's poor and its provident, as well as by the film's own director, Agnes Varda. The aesthetic, political and moral ... See full summary »

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Agnes Varda returns to the people she met in her 2000 documentary on gleaning and meets some new people who were inspired by her first film.

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In tribute to her late husband, the wife of the respected French director honors his life and artistic works by highlighting his vision in clips and interviews.

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A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.

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What does being a woman really mean? How do women live the status society reserves for them? A group of women, beautiful or not, young or not, gifted with motherly instinct or not, answer before Agnès Varda's camera.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Herself
André Lubrano ...
Himself
Blaise Fournier ...
Himself
Vincent Fournier ...
Himself
Andrée Vilar ...
Herself
Stéphane Vilar ...
Himself
Christophe Vilar ...
Himself
Rosalie Varda ...
Herself
...
Himself
Christophe Vallaux ...
Himself
Mireille Henrio ...
Herself
Didier Rouget ...
Himself
Anne-Laure Manceau ...
Gerald Ayres ...
Himself (as Gerry Ayres)
Jim McBride ...
Himself
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Storyline

At nearly 80, Agnès Varda explores her memory - growing up in Belgium, living in Sète, Paris, and Noirmoutier, discovering photography, making a film, being part of the New Wave, raising children with Jacques Demy, losing him, and growing old. She explores her memory using photographs, film clips, home movies, contemporary interviews, and set pieces she designs to capture a feeling, a time, or a frame. Shining through each scene are her impish charm, inventiveness, and natural empathy. How do people grow old, how does loss stay with them, can they remain creative, and what do they remember? Memory, she says, is like a swarm of confused flies. She envisions hers for us. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Details

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Release Date:

17 December 2008 (France)  »

Also Known As:

As Praias de Agnès  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,948 (USA) (7 August 2009)

Gross:

$239,711 (USA) (20 August 2010)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 118156. See more »

Connections

References Huey (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Supplique pour être enterré à la plage de Sète
Composed, Written and Sung by Georges Brassens
Produced by Georges Meyerstein-Maigret
disques Phillips
(1966)
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User Reviews

 
Not knowing if you know, it is all there
6 December 2015 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

So I finally arrive for the last leg of my journey with Varda in this self portrait. I will rest here for the time being with the beautiful introspection of it; not because she has stopped working, she hasn't, but this permits an appreciation of everything she strives to live for. For newcomers it will be a good place to start knowing her and they can deepen each chapter by going back to her earlier travels.

Introspection is the wrong word actually. Varda doesn't keep things internalized, I don't get the sense of anything hidden or dimly seen. For her it is all readily available, it is all externalized and offered up to us like we are guests in her house on an afternoon and she just waves us in smiling. I get the sense of a woman who has traveled far and seen amazing things and can't wait to share it all with a giddy, sometimes shy, excitement.

This isn't the first time she is reflecting on herself of course, many of her works are self portraits on the side or inspired by real life. We learn for example that Daguerrotypes she filmed around her neighborhood because she was pregnant at the time and had to stay at home. But how does she present herself here, what images of her? Varda as grandmotherly raconteur, as young girl overcoming her shyness with men, as spirited woman who protested injustice, as wife and soulmate and explorer.

As for stories, she has been all over and has plenty. Traveled to China and Cuba in her twenties and came back with images of revolution. Knew Godard and speaks about her filmmaking start via Resnais. She was in Oakland in '68 to film the Panthers. Knew Jim Morrison. Partied with Warhol's circle in LA. Protested feminism with Delphine Seyrig in the streets. Marker is in the film, speaking from behind an image. These and more.

Saying that she shares it all in the open isn't the whole truth either; truth is knowing how to sculpt it after all. You might appreciate how eloquently she speaks about discovering sex in Corsica one summer by not speaking about it. How gracefully she speaks about her marriage, sketching only the air around unhappiness (as all marriages know) by a small gesture; yes, she was the woman in Documenteur. She is one of those beautiful souls who know how to move towards things, how to move back, how to see and from what distance.

The most lasting impression however is of a woman who glides through lives she recalls and summons to her in the beach of memory, and this is Varda herself in the actual film moving through images, photos of childhood, mirrors, a visit to her childhood home yields an impromptu discussion about model trains, clips from old films, enactments, narrations about these. But moves with an unfettered soul. She opens the film with "I'm playing the role of a little old lady, telling her life story". Be like her, play the role of someone who happens to be the person you have come to be; no more is necessary.

For near the end she reserves a small gem that carries the wisdom of entire lives, there's more to this one line than in entire careers. Prior to it, we have seen a woman who has known heartbreak enough, pacing alone in the house of images (the place with strips of film hanging from walls). Now her family, kids and grandkids, are dancing nearby. Watching them she muses that they're her happiness, she doesn't know if she knows them or understands them, she just goes towards them.

Something to meditate upon.


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