Agnés Varda: The female master of truth

Ana Costanzo

By Ana Costanzo

Surrounding one of the most influential changes in cinema history dubbed the French New Wave in the 1950s and 1960s are the directors who transformed the film genre with tales blending morality and dark irony. Among these prodigious filmmakers are Jean Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, and Agnés Varda.

It is the latter who died on March 29, 2019 in Paris at the age of 90. Varda’s bubbly personality transfixed the audience in her stories involving strong feminism and the ideals of life drowned in the dark presence of reality. While these directors as mentioned above created a standard for film webbing truth into the lens scope, Varda truly is the quintessential master of mise en scéne, a woman unafraid to share her ideals of infidelity, vices, and mysticism rooted in reality.

In a society overcrowded with male ideals, their presence in the cinema setting created an omnipresent and formidable sense of unbelonging for outcasts, Varda proved herself capable of propelling herself into this male-dominant society.

Films such as Le Bonheur, The Creatures, Kung Fu Master, and Cléo from 5 to 7 prove her as the epitome of what a director should be with her beautiful and witty scripts and innovative lens tricks. She speaks the truth as no one else could; better yet, she speaks her own truth, offering herself in every scene through her directorial vision and written script.

She is wholly herself in every film she sculpts, aware of her ability and voice which makes her work so compelling.

That is the charm of the French New Wave, this sense of truth and self-assurance, this friendship between the director and the screen that captures the essence of humanity.

This too, is the truth of Varda, her beguiling films depicting the true role of women while also illustrating her own ruling over cinema.

While Varda’s presence is no longer with us, her work will continue to hypnotize audiences as they revel in her authenticity and feminism ideals which breathe life into her art—art which continues to transcend audiences’ lives as they become acquainted with such a masterful auteur.

It did for me. And soon, it will hopefully do for you, too.