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Film / The Gleaners and I

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The Gleaners and I, often referred to by its French title Les glaneurs et la glaneuse, is a 2000 documentary by Agnès Varda. Hold that, a very famous documentary that is used as one of the markers of the genre. Despite being made in the year 2000, it's visual quality looks a lot more like the late '80s. Probably because a lot of the time Varda was filming herself with a handheld camcorder from the time, which hadn't really improved in quality.

The documentary is the journey of Varda around rural France and exploring various meanings of "gleaning". It is not completely shot in either of the two typical documentary forms (cinéma vérité and Direct Cinema), instead using a combination of both and then some personal-interaction and storytelling segments that fall more under travelogue, and some other magazine cinema style clips. This formal variety reflects the variety of ways of interpreting the world, and the definition of gleaning.

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The parts that people remember most from the film are the farmers pulling potatoes, the trash-diving artists, and the interviews with people in a cafe who remark on the history of gleaning and how this part of rural culture is being lost. There is also the painting "The Gleaners" that Varda uses for inspiration, and even manages to get friends at the freaking Louvre to go into storage and rearrange a bunch of famous historical pieces so that she can have a jaunt with the original.

It got a sequel called Deux ans après in, you guessed it, 2002. Varda goes to talk with the people featured in The Gleaners and I, and then starts a different style of storytelling abruptly when she talks to people who had been inspired by the 2000 film and the changes they made.


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Tropes:

  • Double-Meaning Title: Multiple meanings, the various definitions of gleaning (that is, taking the excess that is unwanted, as in gleaning the land), or at least different interpretations of gleaning as they are embodied by people.
  • Female Gaze: Concerning film theory, not men looking hot. There is the gaze of the director, a woman, and of her camera, as applied to the film, and of Varda as a 'character'. The French title of the work more easily makes this idea known.
  • Nostalgia Filter: The locals in the cafe talk about what gleaning used to be like and that it's a dying art.
  • One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasure: The Gleaners and I is basically if someone decided to turn this trope into a magazine documentary.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The heart-shaped potato(es).
  • Travelogue Show: Varda journeys around France picking up information about les glaneurs via videography, interviews, and other forms of media, making it somewhat like a magazine movie whilst also avant-garde.

Alternative Title(s): Les Glaneurs Et La Glaneuse

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