Steven Ungar provides a close reading of Agnès Varda's classic 1962 work that depicts, in near realtime, 90 minutes in the life of Cléo, a young woman in Paris awaiting the results of medical tests that she fears will confirm a fatal condition. Ungar also looks back on Varda's film-making career and her contribution to the French New Wave.
Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cléo from 5 to 7), Agnes Varda's classic 1962 work depicts, in near real time, 90 minutes in the life of Cléo, a young woman in Paris awaiting the results of medical tests that she fears will confirm a fatal condition.
The film, whose visual beauty matches its evocation of early-Fifth Republic Paris, was a major point of reference for the French New Wave despite the fact that Varda never considered herself a member of the core Cahiers du Cinéma group of critics turned filmmakers. Steven Ungar provides a close reading of the film and situates it in its social, political and cinematic contexts, tracing Varda's early career as a student of art history and as a photographer, the history of postwar French film, and the lengthy Algerian war to which Cléo's health concerns and ambitions to become a pop singer make her more or less oblivious. His study is the first to set a reading of Cléo's formal and technical complexity alongside an analysis of its status as a visual document of its historical moment. Steven Ungar's foreword to this new edition looks back upon Varda's film-making career and considers her contributions as a female auteur and in the context of the French New Wave.