La Pointe Courte
BAMPFA Collection Print
Silvia Monfort, Philippe Noiret, Inhabitants of La Pointe Courte,
Made outside the French film industry on a shoestring budget, Varda’s 1954 debut has been called by historian Georges Sadoul “truly the first film of the nouvelle vague”; its innovative editing, location shooting, and use of nonprofessional actors seem as radical now as they did then. A sun-scarred Mediterranean fishing port is both background and plot element for a fractured tale of reunited lovers, inspired by William Faulkner’s The Wild Palms. For Varda the locale is as important as the tale, and her camera divides its time evenly between the lovers’ alienated monologues and more important things, like the way sunlight plays across white stones, and how villagers go about their lives amidst laundry-hung alleyways, boat jousts, and town dances. The film’s jarring, alienating editing (by Alain Resnais) conjures a world where public and private, love and society, are as bound together, and as far apart, as sun and shadow.