Criterion Sunday 418: “4 by Agnès Varda”

This box set was pretty exciting when it came out. Criterion had already released two of her key works as stand-alone releases, Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961) and Vagabond (1985) as spine numbers 73 and 74 respectively. However, adding two other early works and putting them in a box with a swathe of extras was a great step, and the understanding of her career is aided greatly by seeing her debut film, La Pointe-Courte (1955) — also sometimes considered a fore-runner (if not the first film) of the French New Wave — and her seminal mid-60s film, which feels very much a riposte to the works of Godard, Le Bonheur (1965). She was also such an inveterate artisan that she has a plethora of her own short films, interviews and bonus featurettes to aid an understanding of her films, and plenty of these make it onto these discs.

Of course, since then Criterion have put all of her films together for The Complete Films of Agnès Varda box-set on Blu-ray, and while neither that box-set nor the other films have official Criterion spine numbers (and therefore won’t be included in this regular feature), it is surely one of the most essential of all their releases and well worth investing in (if you can play American Blu-rays).

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