Film: The Gleaners and I

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Things to consider:
– How does the film come about?
– How does Varda’s working method effect the film?
– How does Varda incorporate herself into the work?

Post a comment response to the movie you watched in class. What caught your eye? What can be learned by the making of this film as it relates to what you are planning to do?

{ 03/01/2012    4 Week 2   

162 responses to “Film: The Gleaners and I”

  1. Andrew says:

    I loved the way her process reflected the subject. She incorporates the “dancing cap” when she forgets the camera is on, as well as shots of her travels, shots of rollerbladers as they skate by, and other ephemeral sights. Her personal reflections, about growing old and feeling her body deteriorate were also an interesting aside as a reflection of the discarded objects and the people who collect them.

  2. Claire says:

    I felt like Varda’s approach to documenting gleaners portrayed it as more of a simple pastime than a method of survival. She said there was no shame involved, and focused a lot on the humble stooping position. There were many shots of adults searching (like a child?) behind leaves and rummaging through disregarded sites. It reminded me of things that fascinate children that older people take for granted and are too busy to notice. The pacing of the footage contributed to the slow, curious aspect of this lifestyle.

    I appreciated Varda’s patience with her subjects, giving them an opportunity to share mostly at their own pace. Varda consistently adds her voice and uses the camera as an extension of her body. I was a little confused why she kept emphasizing her hands- “One hand films the other” when it was evident other people were filming her at times. I enjoyed seeing how her interest began and eventually transformed into other discoveries.

  3. Ellery says:

    Varda took a light and whimsical approach in documenting this often overlooked practice to bring up larger political and social issues of consumerism, reusability, sustainability, and age. In a playful manner, she reveals resistance to conventional expectations. Though never specifically saying it, it often felt like she was relating to and taking sides with the gleaners. One of my favorite parts is when she stages a robed lawyer in the middle of the gleaning location (field/city street) to confirm that the gleaners are legally allowed to be there. Rather than explicitly addressing these issues, she takes her own humorous approach that in the end reveals a lot about herself.

  4. Hallie says:

    I struggled a bit to see the connection between the self-portraiture aspects of the film that people are mentioning— commenting on her aging, incorporating her accidental footage, the shots of her hand framing passing trucks as though it were a second camera— and the narrative surrounding gleaning. Poignant as they were, to me it seemed discontinuous to have these personal musings interwoven with the interviews and footage of the gleaners, and these segments pulled me out of the otherwise consistent narrative. I thought that the film shed a lot of light on the practice, and was particularly interested in the distinction between the three very different reasons for gleaning: out of necessity, for recreation, and because of ethical beliefs. However, I’m left thinking more about the filmmaker’s editing choices than the larger themes at play.

  5. Megan says:

    At first, I didn’t understand why we were watching The Gleaners and I for this class. After I had some time to think about it, I realized it had so much to do with process. The film starts as just a simple interest in gleaning, looking at images and talking to people about it. However it branches out to so many different directions because of the wide net that Varda casts. I can see how this method of exploring a topic could be extremely useful in our degree projects.

  6. Cindi says:

    Agnès Varda begins the film by examining the various types of gleaners and analyzing the act of gleaning. She later applies herself as a subject of the film and becomes a gleaner as well. Many of the gleaners explain that the reason they glean is because it is a tradition passed down from their family or because they are self-motivated. Varda then begins to inspect her own life and her aging as she films the wrinkles on her skin and the grayness of her hair. She notices her aging and states that the end is near. Towards the end of the film, she finds a clock without hands while gleaning and keeps it wishing that she does not see time pass. Varda’s aging is an unsettling subject for her, which she fights in a playful manner by deliberately leaving “accidental” shots, like the dancing lens cap and her hand tunneling trucks on the road. This can be seen as an act of Varda’s gleaning. She found these clips and kept them as if they were gems. She embraces the unexpected and applies it to her story in the film.

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