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Daguerréotypes (1976) Online

Daguerréotypes (1976) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Documentary
Year :
Directror :
Agnès Varda
Writer :
Agnès Varda
Type :
Time :
1h 20min
Rating :
Daguerréotypes (1976) Online

Portraits of the people that occupy the small shops of the Rue Daguerre, Paris, where the filmmaker lived.
Uncredited cast:
Rosalie Varda Rosalie Varda - Herself (uncredited)

User reviews



The film is about lives of shopkeepers living on the same street. They were asked the same questions-When did they move here? How did each of them meet their spouse? What is their dream? The film also shows their daily lives-opening the shop, attending to customers, doing their jobs.

The person who impresses me the most in this film is the lady of the perfume shop, whose name I'm not sure if it's Marcele or not. She is really outstanding. She talks the least in this film. She smiles the least. But the expression on her face and her eyes are undescribable. By just being herself, she is mysterious. There's something about her which makes this film extraordinary. She seems to be the living proof of some facts of life. She is the opposite of the word `superficial.' And Varda seemed to realize that while filming. Varda let the camera focus on her many times. And everytime she's in the frame, there's something magical in the air. Moreover, that lady also provides one of the funniest scenes in this movie. But that scene is not only very funny, it also reflects an ironic truth of some people's lives. I don't know whether to laugh or cry for this scene. And I have to ask myself if my life is somehow similar to her.

The last part of the film touches me deeply and strongly. It's the part about their dreams. And the last sentence which Varda said plus the last image of the film somehow move me to tears, though it's not something sad at all. On the surface, the last scene is very ordinary. This scene would have no effect if it stands alone. But when it was put at the end of the film, this scene is emotionally and spiritually extraordinary.

Another interesting thing about this film is that it totally changes my feelings towards a photo. Before I saw this film, I'd seen its promotional photo-the picture of the bakery couples-and I felt nothing. It was just a photo of strangers. But after seeing the film, I look at the same photo again, and I am overwhelmed by some feelings. After you've learned about their lives and their dreams, after you have seen their smiles and observed their daily lives, they are not strangers any more. Looking at the same photo, I have the same feeling as I would have by opening my family albums and seeing photos of someone in my old neighborhood. The photo reminds me of their lives, and makes me wonder how they are now. This film really makes me wonder how lives on that street are now.

Last, but not least, I also like the technique of intercutting scenes of daily lives with scenes on the magician's stage. Varda seems to have a lot of fun connecting these scenes together by some amusing links-such as when both scenes refer to `losing head.' This clever juxtaposition of scenes create a lot of laughter among the audience. But I think the most important effect of this technique is that it makes the audience realize that our daily lives-our normal boring every day lives-indeed have some magic in it. This film has proved very well that ordinary people have so many interesting things to tell, and it also helps some of us to realize how magical life is.


The first thing I appreciate here is that Varda went out with a camera and filmed her own neighborhood, looked for insight right outside her door. How richer would our lives be (and looking back, the cachet of images that convey the past) if more filmmakers were alert to their surroundings, looked for insight in the present?

She finds an ordinary life of course; visits middle-aged bakers, butchers, perfume sellers in their shops, observes the coming and going. There are no young people interviewed, so this emerges as the chronicle of a generation, Varda's own; the generation who were kids or teenagers during WWII and came to the big city right after from some village in the countryside. The street is Rue Dageurre, after the pioneer of early photography. It's photographs of life that we get. Our reward is that ordinary insight of photographs.

The best photographs are spontaneous, offering a sense that lingers. The sense here is bittersweetness that the journey has come to a stop there in that street, that this is a last station. They recount stories of how they fell in love with a fondness as if stirring the young lover they were. Asked about dreams they see, most dream that they're back in the shops they run during the day, a few dream about romance. The saddest of these neighbors is the old wife of the perfume seller who absently sits around the shop all day, not fully there in mind. The most poignant thing, in the evenings she's seized by some inexplicable urge to go out the door as if something calls for her, some journey left incomplete. She never ventures past the door.

This sense so placidly evoked lingered with me all day and the next; how we're caught between a life we build as loving shelter and the urge to step out the door in the evenings. The soul calls for both, both require mindful cultivation; going out in search of aimless pleasure must be only the unmindful way to do it, the artless way. Varda it seems strove to make herself a gift of that life that is mindfully present, cultivate it; a film like this is the seed that invites the care required to bloom.

The film is a small gesture of affectionate presence, closeness. Sad, and not. Its place may not be in a list of lifechanging works. But it can deepen you the same way a small gesture like stroking a loved one's hair deepens love.

(Ideally you'll see this after Varda's Le Bonheur, one of the most masterful films I know. The couple there could be among the ones here, grown to be 50 together in the same home; consider this an addendum. The same question emerges. Is this happiness? What is this mind that wonders?)


It's not exactly a documentary nor a fiction film. It's more of a magical diary on the rue de Dagerre and the people who lived there on that named street. The fiction part and the interview elements all blended well together forming an amusing half tales half fact.. I can't explain it well enough so please go try see it for yourselves and you will never regret and think of all non fiction films as cold heart materials again.


Daguerréotypes (1976) was written and directed by Agnès Varda.

The movie gives us portraits of the people that occupy the small shops of the Rue Daguerre, in Paris, where the filmmaker lived. Rue Daguerre is in the 14th arrondissement. It is, indeed, named in honor of Louis Daguerre, the inventor of one of the earliest photographic techniques. Photographs made using this process are called daguerreotypes, so Varda's title has a double meaning. Her film is a photographic image of the street on which she lived, which was named after someone who made photographic images possible.

Although I think Rue Daguerre is more touristic now, in 1976 it was a residential street filled with small shops. Some of the shops were basic--a bakery, a butcher shop. But some were more specialized, like a perfumery. The shops are run by middle-aged couples--the classic French bourgeoisie.

Varda brings us into these shops, where the people know her and where they apparently talk very freely with her. To an outsider, they're just people who run a shop. To Varda, they are all people with an interesting story to tell. They tell her their stories, and she shares them with us.

This is movie in which not much happens, and there really isn't any plot. The film is a documentary about a time, a place, and the people who lived at that time in that place. Varda is a talented filmmaker who saved that time, that place, and those people for us to see. Her talent shines through, even 40 years later.

We saw Daguerréotypes at the excellent Dryden Theatre in the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. It was part of an Agnès Varda retrospective, sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology and the Eastman Museum. It will work very well on a small screen.