Feeling Like Death

How La Pointe Courte (1955) and Le Bonheur (1965) Construct a Palpable Aesthetics of Mortality

in Screen Bodies
Caitlin Wilson Graduate, University of Oxford, UK

Search for other papers by Caitlin Wilson in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


Agnès Varda's early narrative films are texturally rich meditations on love and mortality. Each film uses aesthetic strategies that lend a palpability to the heartbreak, grief, and loss explored therein. This article examines how Varda's use of hapticity makes the morbid enticing, luring the viewer closer to the films’ surface. I particularly examine how these films balance narrative storytelling alongside palpable images, investigating whether films are seen, felt, or both simultaneously.

Contributor Notes

Caitlin Wilson holds a Master of Studies with Distinction in Film Aesthetics from the University of Oxford. She also holds a Master of Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include German and French cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, film and video art, and moving image exhibition practices. Her research and criticism can be read in the Melbourne Arts Journal, Senses of Cinema, and Flip Screen, among others. ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3059-4925

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

  • Aaron, Michele. 2014. Death and the Moving Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Barker, Jennifer M. 2009. The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Benezet, Delphine. 2014. The Cinema of Agnès Varda: Resistance and Eclecticism. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Beugnet, Martine. 2007. Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Beugnet, Martine. 2012. “Tactile Visions: From Embodied to Encoded Love.” In Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics, ed. Bettina Papenburg and Marta Zarzycka, 175197. London: I. B. Tauris.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeRoo, Rebecca J. 2008. “Unhappily Ever After: Visual Irony and Feminist Strategy in Agnès Varda's Le Bonheur.Studies in French Cinema 8 (3): 189209. https://doi.org/10.1386/sfc.8.3.189_1

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dousteyssier-Khoze, Catherine. 2017. “Mise en Abyme, Irony and Visual Cliche in Agnès Varda's Le Bonheur (1964).” In Agnès Varda Unlimited: Image, Music, Media, ed. Marie-Claire Barnet, 97101. Oxford: Legenda.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Felleman, Susan. 2021. “Show the Clichés: the Appearance of Happiness in Agnès Varda's Le Bonheur.Film and Media Studies 19 (1): 1734. https://doi.org/10.2478/ausfm-2021-0002

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Felski, Rita. 2015. The Limits of Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Giachetti, Alexis Seccombe. 2017. “Making Sense of the Replaceable Beloved in Agnès Varda's Le Bonheur.Studies in European Cinema 14 (2): 91102. https://doi.org/10.1080/17411548.2016.1258859

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Horner, Kierran Argent. 2018. “The Art of Advertising Happiness: Agnès Varda's Le Bonheur and Pop Art.Studies in French Cinema 18 (2): 133155. https://doi.org/10.1080/14715880.2017.1310576

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kristeva, Julia. 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Marks, Laura U. 2000. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Marks, Laura U. 2008. “Thinking Multisensory Culture.Paragraph 31 (2): 123137.

  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. (1961) 2006. “Eye and Mind.” In Images: A Reader, ed. Sunil Manghani, Arthur Piper, and Jon Simons, 131134. London: Sage.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Varda, Agnès, dir. 1955. La Pointe Courte [The short point]. France: Ciné-Tamaris.

  • Varda, Agnès, dir. 1965. Le Bonheur [Happiness]. France: Parc Film.


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 474 474 65
Full Text Views 18 18 1
PDF Downloads 17 17 0