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The Agnes Varda Collection Vol.1

La Pointe Courte (1954)       Cleo 5 to 7 (1962)

 

Le Bonheur (1964)        La Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (2002)
 

Agnes Varda used the skills she honed early in her career as a photographer to create some of the most nuanced, thought-provoking films of the past fifty years. She is widely believed to have presaged the French new wave with her first film, La Pointe Courte, which is featured here in this collection of her most prestigious work. Featured in this collection are La Pointe Courte (1954) Cleo 5 to 7 (1962) Le Bonheur (1964) La Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (2002).

 

 

La Pointe Courte (1954)
Her debut feature about a married couple (an early Philippe Noiret) and their difficult relationship is slight but well played.

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961)
Ostensibly about a singer (Corinne Marchand)who wanders around Paris in real time while waiting for the results of a biopsy. However Varda imbues the proceedings with some unexpected moments and a cute "film within a film" which showcases some of the other New Wave luminaries and cinematographer Jean Rabier's Paris is beautiful to behold.

Le Bonheur (1964)
Sad but potent mood piece about a carpenter Francois (Jean-Claude Drouot) who chooses mistress over wife with tragic results. Drouot's on screen family are actually his own.

Gleaners And I (2000)
Disarming documentary about those people on the margins of society. Here the "gleaners" are collectors or as the boxset suggests "foragers" who search for discarded things for pleasure, importance, etc. Varda feels a real affinity for this inclination and that is why the film works so well.

Comments

Note: At the time of writing this, all four films are only available in the UK housed in this set, however Artificial Eye does plan to release Cleo from 5 to 7 individually on October 11th, available HERE.

Three of the four discs in this set were released in Criterion's 4 by Agness Varda box set a couple of years ago, while The Gleaners & I also received a region 1 release a few years back. Although the region 1 discs (especially the Criterion) were quite good, the discs in this set stack up quite nicely against their North American counterparts. Specific differences in image will be discussed below. However, before moving on, it is worth noting three things. First, according to Gary's review of the Criterion set, the previous editions all featured Dolby Digital 1.0 (the Zietgeist edition of The Gleaners & I sported a stereo mix). However, all of the films in this set have relatively clean and clear Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks with burned-in English subtitles, so I have to give the audio edge to the Artificial Eye set. Second, like the Criterion, the AE set is packed to the gills with extras, many of which were featured on the previous releases. However, this set features a number of unique extras, mainly in the form of Varda's short films. While I would love to discuss all of these differences, there's just too much to mention for one review. Finally, given the enormity of this review, I'll also forgo analysis of the differences between Criterion's original (OOP) release of "Cleo from 5 to 7" as a space saving measure. For further analysis see HERE and HERE.

La Pointe Courte
The Criterion disc looks like it went through a good deal of cleaning upon it's release, and it does truly look wonderful. The AE disc also looks great but probably has a little bit more damage (in the form of scratches mainly) than the Criterion does. The Criterion also has a softer palette, with more detailed grays, while the AE transfer has a darker overall appearance. It's also worth noting that the Criterion is windowboxed, whereas the AE disc is unaltered full frame.

Cleo from 5 to 7
The images appear to be absolutely identical and were almost certainly taken from the same source. Like Gary said in his review of the Criterion box, it's cleaner than previous releases, but don't expect to be blown away by it. There's still some slight damage and it's not as clear as one might hope. However, since there's really no difference between the two transfers, any choice between the two editions will have to come down to the sound, extras, and region compatibility.

La Bonheur
The original Criterion was probably the weakest in the set, as it was riddled with noise and a soft image. The Artificial Eye has essentially the same clarity and noisiness, but the two are not from the same print unless one of them had their colors altered before release. The former is duller, but may have the more realistic skin tones. The latter release is more vivid, but perhaps over saturated. While I would like to pronounce one of them to be the correct color scheme, I can't do that without word from Ms. Varda. Since she oversaw the transfers for Criterion, I'll have to assume that their's is the superior color scheme.

The Gleaners & I
As Gary noted with the Zeitgeist release, it's not unacceptable quality, but still not as good as one might have hoped. Both editions likely came from an analog source and are both interlaced, but thankfully the Artificial Eye edition doesn't have any of the combing issues that the region 1 does. What's more, the Artificial Eye has more detail (see the relatively smooth face in the region 1 in the first comparison versus the visible wrinkles in the second picture). The AE colors in the image might be slightly saturated, but it's no big deal. Given that both discs come with Varda's feature length follow up, I have to give the edge to AE.

This is a truly wonderful box set filled with content that is more or less on equal to the Criterion box. That being said, it's difficult to compare the two since they only share 3 out of four films, but for those that are locked out of region one, this is the perfect alternative. The extras are tremendous here and the AV ranking amongst the best out there. This set is one of the best out of 2009 and one that I give my highest possible recommendation to. Since the set is only £22.99 on amazon.UK at the time of writing this, fans of the films may find enough new material to justify purchasing this even if they already own the Criterion box.


 

(aka "La Pointe-Courte" )

 

directed by Agnes Varda
France 1955

 

In Agnès Varda's directorial debut she faithfully portrays the complicated relationship between a married couple (exceptionally played by Silvia Monfort & Philippe Noiret), set against the backdrop of a small Mediterranean fishing town.

Theatrical Release: January 4th, 1956 (Paris)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

The Criterion Collection - 4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL

 (The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419)) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Also available individually:

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:20:30 1:16:45
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.37 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419))

Bitrate:

Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp

Audio French (original mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English (burned-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• New video interview with director Agnès Varda (15:42)
• Excerpts from a 1964 episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps, in which Vard

DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008
Chapters

 

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Du Côté de la côte (25:58)
• Trailers for other Varda films from Artificial Eye

DVD Release Date: October 5th, 2009
Slim Case in a Cardboard Case

Chapters 12

 



DVD Menus
(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419)) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419)) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419)) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 419)) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(aka "Cléo de 5 à 7" )

 

directed by Agnes Varda
France 1962

 

Agnès Varda's classic CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 manages to successfully capture Paris at the height of the sixties, in this intriguing tale expertly presented in real time about a singer (played to perfection by Corinne Marchand) whose life is in turmoil as she awaits a test result from a biopsy.

As Cléo readies herself to meet with her doctor at 7 o'clock, she meets several friends and strangers while trying to grapple with mortality. 

The film is noted for its handling of several of the themes of Existentialism, including discussions of mortality, the idea of despair, and leading a meaningful life.

 

Theatrical Release: April 11th, 1962 (France)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Gary Tooze for the The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) Screen Caps!

(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 1 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:29:45 1:25:51
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.49 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73))

Bitrate:

Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp)

Audio French (original mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English (burned-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Remembrances (2005), a documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Varda and actors Corinne Marchand and Antoine Bourseiller (35:56)
• Gallery of paintings by Hans Baldung Grien, whose work inspired the character of Cléo
• Excerpt from a 1993 French television program featuring Madonna and Varda talking about the film (2:24)
• Cléo's Real Path Through Paris (2005), a short film retracing, on a motorcycle, Cléo's steps through
• Les fiancés du pont Macdonald (1961), a short film directed by Varda, featuring some of her new wave
• L’opéra Mouffe (1958), an early short by Varda, with a score by Georges Delerue (16:04)
• Theatrical trailer (2:03)

DVD Release Date:

Chapters

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Memories and Anecdotes (36:00)
• Madonna and Agnes Talk About Cleo (2:24)
• Cleo's Time Lapse Trajectory (9:21)
• Subject of the Engaged (2:56)
• Fiances on the Bridge (4:53)
• Cariatides of Paris (11:38)
• Trailers for other Agnes Varda films from Artificial Eye

DVD Release Date:
Slim Case in a Cardboard Case

Chapters 12

  



DVD Menus
(
The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 73)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(aka "Happiness" )

 

directed by Agnes Varda
France 1965

In one of Agnès Varda's more provocative films, she presents us with the dilemma faced by husband and father Francois (Jean-Claude Drouot) who finds himself falling in love with an attractive postal worker.

Theatrical Release: February 10th, 1965 (France)

Reviews                                More Reviews                        DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL

 Big thanks to Gary Tooze for the The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) Screen Caps!

(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

also available individually:

 

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 1 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:16:09
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.61 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420))

Bitrate:

Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp)

Audio French (original mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English (burned-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Varda from 1998 about Le bonheur (3:00)
• The Two Women of Le bonheur (2006), a short piece featuring actors Claire Drouot and Marie-France Bo
• Thoughts on Le bonheur (2006), a discussion between four scholars and intellectuals discussing the concept of happiness and its relation to the film (15:01)
• Two short pieces by Varda investigating people's idea of happiness (5:49 + 1:35)
• Jean-Claude Drouot Returns (2006), a featurette in which the actor revisits the film's setting forty
• Segment from the 1964 television program Démons et merveilles du cinéma, featuring footage of Varda
• Du Côté de la côte (1958), a short film by Varda exploring the tourist destination of the Côte d'Azu
• Theatrical trailer (2:19)

DVD Release Date:

Chapters

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Agnes Talks About Le Bonheur (3:02)
• Words about Le Bonheur (15:05)
• Le Bonheur: The People of Fontenay Respond (5:54)
• Jean-Claude Drouot returns to Fontenay-aux-roses (10:24)
• The two women from Le Bonheur (6:09)
• Agnes on Happiness: Fragments of a Documentary (4:09)
• Trailers for other Agnes Varda films from Artificial Eye

 

DVD Release Date:
Slim Case in a Cardboard Case

Chapters 12

  



DVD Menus
(
The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(The Criterion Collection (4 By Agnes Varda (Spine # 420)) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

(aka "Les glaneurs et la glaneuse" )

 

directed by Agnes Varda
France 2000

In 2000 Agnès Varda travelled the French countryside to study the world of foragers and scavengers called The Gleaners.

Varda likens her filmmaking to the gleaning of ideas and images from interior and exterior journeys and admits to being a gleaner herself, which gives her a special connection with her subjects in this honest and intriguing documentary.

Theatrical Release: July 7th, 2000 (France)

Reviews                           More Reviews                       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL

(Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Zeitgeist Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:18:30 1:18:33
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.49 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Zeitgeist Films

 

Bitrate:

Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp)

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English (burned-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Zeitgeist Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (59:22)
• Production Notes
• Filmography
• Liner notes by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott

DVD Release Date: July 23rd, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 22
 

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• The Little Museum Featurette (23:40)
• Homage to Zgougou the Cat Featurette (2:08)
• Two Years Later Documentary (59:27)

 

DVD Release Date:
Slim Case in a Cardboard Case

Chapters 12

  



DVD Menus
(Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Zeitgeist Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Artificial Eye (The Agnes Varda Collection, Volume 1 (Sp) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution Artificial Eye
Region 0 - PAL



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