Le Bonheur

In Vivian Sobchack’s essay “What My Fingers Knew: the Cinesthetic Subject or vision in the Flesh” she asserts the idea that you cannot just experience a film by what we see but the experience is also felt with our whole body. She claims that the memories from previous sensations resonate with our body when we see them in a film. I do agree with her assertion especially when the director is skillful in what they want to be perceived by the audience. I think that Agnès Varda’s Le Bonheur is a good example of an auteur using the camera to evoke a bodily response. In the very opening scenes of Le Bonheur the viewer is struck with the mise-en-scène of the beautiful prairie/ forest looking area. The colors were incredibly striking from the use of Technicolor and made the images all the more real. Just in the first few minutes of the film I could imagine walking while the long crisp green grass crunches under my feet while slightly scraping against me legs. As I saw the grass and the flowers swaying with the wind it was like I could feel the wind blowing against my hair and face all at the same time. When the family was lying under the shade of the tree I could feel the coolness of the shade enveloping me from memories of taking refuge under a tree or building during a hot summer’s day. During the climax of the film when Francois finds out that his wife is dead the lack of sound evoked very powerful feelings. As he picked up his wife the ambient sound and nondigetic sound ceased and while I saw the series of jump cuts I felt the weight of the situation. When the sound stopped it was as though I could not breathe and time was standing still at the moment. When Francois touched his wife’s body it was as though I was touching her cold, wet, lifeless flesh as well. I thought the scene was very powerful considering I felt a bodily response of empathy towards a character that I hated. The character was portrayed in a way that made you hate him yet here I was empathizing with his character because even though my brain says that he is a selfish jerk my body is being tricked by the sound and the camera. I believe that Vivian was completely accurate when she says that that the movie has the ability to move us on screen as much as it moves us off screen because I was completely moved by the visuals that Varda gives in Le Bonheur.



About chelseabro

I am senior in Agricultural and Biological engineering. I plan on using my major to go into food engineering.I like to hang out with my friends and we watch movies and play games. I voulunteer in Carver Gardens which is an underprivileged neighborhood in Gainesville and help tutor and mentor the children. My favorite movie is The Incredibles which is a DIsney?Pixar film.The visuals in the movie were great. I was also able to relate to how human the characters were they were pretty developed pretty well. I enjoy all types of movie genres except for horror. My favorite genre is science fiction but i dont like movies that are science fiction bordering on horror. I enjoy character development in movies which doesnt happen to often which is why i tend to enjoy television more since you can watch characters grow and see how their environment helps shape them.
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One Response to Le Bonheur

  1. booaninja says:

    I believe that you took a very interesting view on Le Bonheur. In my opinion, I do not believe that Varda was trying to illicit a visceral response throughout most of the film. I agree with your point on feeling the “weight” of the situation when Francois finds his dead wife and holds on to her. I also agree with the impact it undoubtedly had on many viewers by allowing them to feel how disorienting and shocking the moment was to him because of certain editing techniques. However, since Varda did not focus on character depth or their inner struggles/emotions, I did not feel hatred towards Francois. I felt a slight indifference as I was spectating on his life and his decisions. I believe that Varda purposely did not engage the personalities of the characters or even the environment of the scenes as could be expected in many films. I believe she did this in order to jolt the audience from the indifference towards the end with the suicide scene.

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