Agns Varda and the poetics of the image

Combining aesthetics, psychoanalysis, semiotics, philosophy, stylistics and cinematographic theories, N. Mauffrey approaches the work of Agns Varda from the angle of “cincriture”, proceeding through collages.

Agns Varda attracted, ds La Pointe Courte in 1954, the attention of French critics who devoted very beautiful pages to it; first in The Cinema Notebooks then among others in magazines Positive, CinmAction. She later aroused the interest of academics and, whether in France or the United States, her work is now analyzed through the prism of multiple approaches which highlight the aesthetic, ethical, even sociological significance of her productions.

N. Mauffrey, with The Cincriture of Agns Varda: pictura and poetryoffers a pointed reflection on the work of the filmmaker and studies with relevance and finesse circumference, specific to the filmography of Agns Varda. In this sense, the author welcomes the addition of monographic studies on Varda, by analyzing the singularities of this cinematographic work and always keeping in mind the way in which it never ceases to dialogue with social and societal issues, such as feminism (Response from Women1975, One sings, the other does not1976), the struggles for civil rights in the United States (Black Panthers,1968) or the Vietnam War (collective film Far from Vietnamunselected fragment, 1967).

Women's Response (1975)

Black Panthers (1968)

One sings, the other doesn't (1976)

This beautifully crafted work develops a very precise categorization of all of Vard's work, and also offers a very beautiful bibliography which will delight researchers specializing in the filmmaker. However, the latter is far from being accessible to the restricted circle of academics and will be able to satisfy a wider readership, wishing to discover the Vardian work or to enrich its knowledge on this long and heterogeneous filmography, made up of fiction and documentaries, short and feature films. With The Cincriture of Agns Varda: pictura and poetry, N. Mauffrey helps the reader weave links between these different films, better understand their content, determine the recurring motifs and themes, thus providing them with valuable reference points.

Also, movie buffs and fans of this rich work should not let themselves be frightened by the density of N. Mauffrey's text since she knows how to guide her reader with precision and kindness. In this sense the work is made up of five chapters: Cincire, Think, Think about it, Dreaming And Tinker divided into numerous sub-parts which make the subject very clear and allow, if the reader wishes, to compose their own journey within the work, to break-paste its relationship to the text to understand it in an intimate and subjective way, the way in which Varda designs her films. N. Mauffrey's approach is part of several currents of thought and his approach is nourished as much by figural studies, aesthetics, psychoanalysis, semiology, philosophy, stylistics and phenomenology as by cinematographic theories, the history of cinema, methodology of textual analysis and visual cultures (p. 37), which could appeal to a multitude of readers.

In addition, the author, with an educational concern, scrupulously analyzes Vardian work in the light of the artists and theorists who inspired the filmmaker. Indeed, N. Mauffrey places his study in the intellectual landscape on which Varda was nourished and in this sense invokes the work of Derrida, the philosophy of the imagination of Bachelard and its relationship to time, but also expands his reflection with Brecht or even the surrealists , notably Andr Breton. With this in mind, she further emphasizes that she wishes prove theoretically the proposals that the filmmaker has made in practice in his films and his writings (p. 34).

Cincriture: trend of Varda’s cinema

Cincriture, central in Varda's cinema, is first theorized at length in the first chapter, allowing both the reader to know its origins, but also the author to lay the groundwork for her analysis. Thus N. Mauffrey specifies that to define the logic of cincriture, four key actions will organize the rest of the statement: think, reflect, dream, tinker (p. 37).

N. Mauffrey further notes that Varda, with the use of circumference, claims its own terminology to consider the work of the filmmaker which would distinguish it from other forms of practice such as painting or writing and moves away from the screenwriting process to fully adapt to the temporal and spatial specificities of the cinematographic medium. In this sense, N. Mauffrey mentions in the first pages that for Varda it is first and foremost about cinch or film-scream (p. 14). Thus the circumference is the fair, singular and thoughtful expression, in cinematographic terms, of an idea in situation, revealing the style of its author who cannot think of himself outside of his communicability (p. 18). She reveals of a sensation and an emotion of the moment that must be captured cinematographically in visual and sound terms (p. 15).

Furthermore, the author emphasizes that the circumscription is fully in line with the tradition ofut pictura poetry which brings together, in a community of thought, all artists, filmmakers, painters, writers or poets (p. 27). Lut pictura poetryLatin expression taken from Lpoetic art d'Horace then reverses and reinvents from the Renaissance, weaves a link between the different arts and engages them in a common dynamic that is poetry. N. Mauffrey places the practice of Agns Varda in this tradition of correspondence of the arts, which favors the imagination and the sensitive.

Again the author recalls that the ciscripture is inspired by the metaphor of camra-pen by the filmmaker and theorist Alexandre Astruc who conceptualizes cinema as an autonomous means of expression freed from previous arts, a means of expression through which the filmmaker turns his gaze on the world. Varda, however, stands out, reproaching him for the use of the term pen. Indeed, N. Mauffrey notes that the nologism used by Varda accounts for all the stages of making the film, contrary to Astruc's expression. However, both have in common that they consider cinema as a language through which the subjectivity of the filmmaker asserts itself.

Cincriture irrigates the reflection of N. Mauffrey who stands out when she affirms that the two founding plans of the cincture are the photograph of Ulysses (Ulysses1982) who looks at the sea and Mona as Venus who comes out of the waters (No shelter, no law1985) (p. 187). WhileUlyssesis a short documentary film composed from a photograph taken by Varda in 1954 of a child and a naked man facing the sea, No shelter, no law is a feature-length fiction film which retraces the journey of a young wanderer; Mona, played by Sandrine Bonnaire who takes on her second role in cinema (after having debuted in our loves of Pialat).

Without Roof or Law (1985)

Ulysses (1982)

These two films embody for the author the cicriture and by their complementarity, they appear in full by displaying the term alone in their generic (p. 152).

Chance, mirrors etc.

Numerous film analyzes support N. Mauffrey's reflections and establish a dialogue between the theoretical base invoked and the films. Very specialized, they highlight the motifs which permeate Vardian filmography such as mirrors, beaches, skin, etc., recurring figures such as magicians and alchemists and characterize the fundamental components of cinematography: the chance which makes it gives absolute confidence (p. 222), reverie privileged mode to anchor in a world in perpetual movement and to anchor the spectator in the movement of his film, this through the voice of the symbolic (p. 214), the imagination that Varda puts above everything (p. 175), still the wandering and the error which put sensitive experience at the heart of creation and designate the double movement, physical and interior, of valorizing images in a double perspective of depth and expansion (p. 245).

The author brings significant value to studies on Agns Varda and weaves a dialogue with previous contributions, particularly when she undertakes intertextual analyses. N. Mauffrey emphasizes that the presence of photographs, paintings, sculptures in the cinema of Agns Varda is enough to give an artistic dimension to his work, whether it is broadcast in theaters or exhibited in museums. It offers cultural material renewed by the film, capable of fueling new, curious and informed perspectives, and reviving the imagination. (p. 102). Also, although it focuses more on Varda's filmography, it does not evacuate the questions raised by the plasticity of certain installations and photographs and distinguishes the formal and thematic links which arise between the filmic and plastic works of this artist-filmmaker. Finally N. Mauffrey mentions that

cincriture is a break-glue to the heart at the heart of which the film artist who represents himself assumes the transitional role of the hyphen (). The kinetic and cinematographic dimension of this break-collage does not rest in the principle of filmic scrolling, but in wandering, sensitive and spiritual, which multiplies encounters, nourishes the imagination and encourages disillusionment and contempt, at the heart of a poetic reverie. (pg. 299)