Cleo from 5 to 7 / Cléo de 5 à 7

  • Director: Agnes Varda
  • Released: 1962
  • Writer: Agnes Varda
  • Featured Actors: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray

Basics & Plot

  • The film contrasts Cleo’s fear of death with the teeming life of the Paris streets
  • A large amount of the film takes place outdoors
  • 90 minutes of real time
  • Varda introduces us, first in color (to specify an incident which will preside over all that follows)
  • the threat of possible death in the future slowly begins a road to a certain self-discovery
  • While everything surrounding Cleo teems of life — her own apartment, the streets and cafés of Paris — she in turn seems to be living under the shadow of her own death and superstitions
  • Cleo goes from emotional to emotion as if she were to cease to exist at any moment. It is only once she leaves her own confining place and takes to the street that she begins to evolve
  • Death seems less and less the threat and more the Thing to conquer
  • Characters like Dorothee and Antoine only reinforce this in their appearances — Dorothee by telling her she doesn’t believe in superstitions (therefore disproving the psychic’s dire predictions at the beginning of the story), Antoine by reinforcing Cleo that since her actual name is Florence, she is Summer, and therefore, Life
  • a strong story to contrast the ‘flighty’ main character; her playfulness with form, which later became a common technique for Godard’s and Truffaut’s
  • Varda’s study of art and film history comes through the silent film episode which pay homage to the comedians of a former period of film history
  • The image of Godard, never seen without his dark glasses, throwing them off the bridge is in-joke humor, common to New Wave films

Women & Cinema

The image of women is crucial, and in the media of movies that image is always switching between the nun and the whore, the mama and the bitch. We have put up with that for years, and it has to be changed. It is the image that is important, not so much who is making the film. However, if men are not ready to change the image of women, then women will have to make films to change it. But everybody, men as well as women, have to participate.

In my films I always wanted to make people see deeply. I don’t want to show things, but to give people the desire to see.

Agnes Varda