The film is more than a documentary — it’s a kind of personal essay on celluloid by French New Wave filmmaker Agnes Varda, director of “Le Bonheur” and “Sans Toit Ni Loi”. She’s inspired by several old paintings that depict women picking up grain from the fields, and goes on to look for this traditional practice in all of its modern forms, observing some fascinating things along the way. One of the most interesting things is the way different people look at the same phenomenon differently, depending on their relationship to it. A supermarket manager explains how certain food must be removed from the store at a certain point, whether it’s still edible or not; it’s a matter of law and public health as well as good business. From the scavenger’s point of view, the manager is crazy — in fact, so is the entire way of life he represents. People throw away plenty of good food every day, and it’s almost a crime not to pick it up out of the trash and eat it. Yum yum.
The film’s funniest moment turns on exactly this kind of difference in perspective. An artist, who bikes through the region looking for found objects to use in his creations, shows Varda how he finds his materials.
“Some of the towns are thoughtful enough to publish a map like this, showing the areas and times where objects will be available on the streets,” he says, holding up just such a map.
“But isn’t that actually a map of dates for people to put out their trash?” Varda notes. “Oh, yeah, right,” says the artist, as if he’s never considered that the system wasn’t set up simply for his benefit. Trash and treasure, clearly, are in the eyes of the beholder.. Continue reading