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The Gleaners and I 2000

  • 4.4
Gleaning has meanings both literal (to gather grain left behind by reapers, the subject of nineteenth century French paintings like Jean-Francois Millet's famed "Les glaneuses") and metaphorical (to collect, bit-by-bit). Agnes Varda's rumination on this art of "living off the leftovers of others" finds inspiration in both past and present, rural and urban, the political and the highly personal. Camera in-hand, Varda moves from the highways and back roads of France to its urban alleyways, interviewing those for whom gleaning is a way of life or an encompassing philosophy. For some, gleaning is a means to an end (like finding still-edible food in fields or restaurant trashcans); for others, using only what others throw away is a rebellion against consumer culture. "A wandering-road documentary" is how Varda termed the project; Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader was more effusive, calling it "beautiful, absorbing and touching… a mind-bending experience not to be missed." - Jason Sanders
Voted the best documentary of 2001 by the National Society of Film Critics, Agnès Varda's universally acclaimed "wandering-road documentary" focuses her ever-seeking eye on gleaners: those who scour already-reaped fields for the odd potato or turnip. Her investigation leads us from forgotten corners of the French countryside to off-hours at the green markets of Paris.

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Winner of "Best Documentary" at the 2000 European Film Awards.


2 members like this review

Agnes Varda is fantastic. This film is great! At a screening I saw, someone asked her if when she was capturing lorries with her hand, it was like gleaning lorries and she said "No, I just did that for fun, so I kept it in the film. It has nothing to do with anything." Brilliant. And that's the best scene in the film!

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Member Reviews (8)

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top reviewer

Agnes Varda is fantastic. This film is great! At a screening I saw, someone asked her if when she was capturing lorries with her hand, it was like gleaning lorries and she said "No, I just did that for fun, so I kept it in the film. It has nothing to do with anything." Brilliant. And that's the best scene in the film!

2 members like this review
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Absolutely fascinating documentary about a phenomenon I knew nothing about. Interesting narration and personal commentary from renowned director Agnes Varda as she injects herself into the experience. I highly recommend this!

1 member likes this review

I love Agnes Varda's work so much! I was late to the game, having never heard of her before Beaches of Agnes came out. I used to volunteer at a cooperative moviehouse in San Francisco called The Red Vic (sadly now defunct) and it was a seminal part of my film education. This is where I saw Beaches of Agnes for the first time and on the big screen and that began my cinematic love affair with Varda.

I love her curiosity about humanity, her connection to the outsiders in the world and her photographer's eye. The Gleaners might not have been as interesting as it was if it wasn't for Varda and her willingness to observe and yet interact. When I watch an Agnes Varda documentary, I feel as though I am traveling with a beautiful friend. Her love, curiosity and identification with her subjects rubs off in spades.

She inspires me!

1 member likes this review

The director is an adorable old lady!

1 member likes this review
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How can a film about gleaning completely miss mentioning Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz?????

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HEART SHAPED POTATOES

One man's junk is another man's treasure.

Gleaning is not just for the poor and destitute. We glean antiques/collectibles and re-sell to gleaners.

It was very interesting to see what and how much is thrown out, discarded, ignored, ranging from raw food, cooked, food, to after-market consumer products, . . . . and how gleaning is not only a part of French culture, but how gleaning is permitted by law, under certain restrictions.

Some owners of gleanable items are kind and welcome gleaners. Others (high-end wineries) destroy their extras to limit supply and keep price up.

I was very touched by the last man who lives a simple life, selling papers, gleaning food by day, and teaching French to immigrants by night.

Waste not. Want not.

Lovely, stange and thoughtful