What's It All About?
Vagabond (Sans Toit Ni Loi) is a journey of attempted discovery by Agnes Varda, who also directed Cloe From 5 to 7. As the film opens the frozen body of a dead young woman is found in a ditch. The authorities soon arrive with no clue as to who this unfortunate soul is or how she came to meet her end alone and frozen in the French countryside. Varda then leads the audience on a journey to solve the mystery of who the stranger is. Presented in documentary format, though entirely fictional, Varda begins her search by retracing the vagabond's last days. Varda "finds" people who have encountered the woman (played by Sandrine Bonnaire), interviewing them and presenting their memories through flashback. Varda subtly unfolds the story of a sad woman who finds her existence so unsatisfying and bleak that she chooses to effectively drop out of society. Basically refusing to be a part of the system she hates. She goes on the road, living the life we'd associate with the hobo, going from place to place looking for food and shelter. It's from the stories of the people she's met in her travels that we discover that the vagabond is utterly devoid of ambition. Some of these people give her opportunities to get herself out of her situation, providing her with the very chances she says that she'd like, but she repeatedly turns them away.
How Does the DVD Look?
Criterion doesn't disappoint with this 1.66:1 digital transfer which they state was created from a 35mm interpositive. The photography comes across beautifully and the colors are accurate which helps to paint the picture of the vagabond's bleak life and unfortunate that Varda intended.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented in Digital Mono, the soundtrack is quite satisfying. Obviously isn't a big sound effects so you wouldn't look for distinct surround usage anyway. The french dialogue is crisp and unitelligible to my mono-lingual ears.
Extras! Extras! Read All About 'Em!
This is one of Criterion's bare bones discs, similar to Yojimbo. All you get is a great movie.
Vagabond tells us the story of and unfortunate girl who, in the end, we realize that despite having watched for 105 minutes, we still don't really know her. We have as many questions as answers. What fed her emptiness? What did she want from life that should didn't have and couldn't get? What did she hope to find on the road? Didn't she have friends? etc. etc. Vagabond is wonderful film about a specific person that really could be any of us. It's sad, painful, tragic and subtle and will stay with you for days. Varda handles it extremely well, even through the documentary gimmick, and presents and art-house film that doesn't seem to symbolize anything or tell some socio-political tale beneath it's surface. It is simply what it is. I've given Vagabond a "Recommended" rating only because it is an art film with a specific audience in mind. While it's not a typical French film is still is French and will not have wide appeal. If you enjoy this sort of thing (and you know who you are) I highly recommend it. If you feel like diversifying check it out. Recommended