La Pointe Courte [la pwɛ̃t kuʁt] is a 1955 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda. This feature film was Varda's debut. It has been cited by many critics as a forerunner of the French New Wave, with historian Georges Sadoul calling it "truly the first film of the nouvelle vague."[1] The film takes place in Sète in the south of France. The Pointe Courte ("short point") is a tiny quarter of the town known as the fisherman's village.

La Pointe Courte
La Pointe Courte FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byAgnès Varda
Written byAgnès Varda
StarringSilvia Monfort
Philippe Noiret
Music byPierre Barbaud
CinematographyPaul Soulignac
Louis Stein
Edited byAlain Resnais
Henri Colpi
Release date
  • May 1955 (May 1955)
Running time
86 minutes


A young man (Philippe Noiret) arrives at a train station to see his wife. After four years of marriage, the couple is having problems of a somewhat existential nature—the wife loves her husband, but is thinking of leaving him (he had an affair some time back, but her problem is not jealousy so much as questioning the very nature of love). The couple discuss their lives and become resigned to the fact that they belong together, even if their love has changed. They return to Paris, the wife now better understanding her husband's nature because she's seen his hometown. As this drama unfolds, we see the lives of the poor but proud people living there: fishermen wanting to harvest shellfish from a small lagoon they have been forbidden to use because of an alleged problem with bacteria; a small child dies of an unknown illness; a young man wins the right to court the 16-year-old daughter of a neighbor after proving himself in a local aquatic jousting tournament.


Varda originally visited La Pointe Courte to take pictures for a friend who could no longer visit her home. After seeing the footage she took there, she rented a camera to shoot a film about a couple from Paris who were visiting La Pointe Courte, the husband's home town. Varda set up her own co-op and began production. The budget for the film was $14,000; roughly one fourth the budget of other feature films of the era including The 400 Blows and Breathless. No members of the cast or crew were paid during the production.[2]


In a 1962 interview, Varda spoke of two present themes in the film with "the first being a couple reconsidering their relationship and a village that is trying to resolve several collective problems of survival".[3] In her movie The Beaches of Agnès, Varda says her film was inspired by William Faulkner's The Wild Palms.[4]


The film was first screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 1955. Its premiere in Paris was in 1956 at the Studio Parnasse. It played with Jean Vigo's documentary film À propos de Nice (1930).[3] The Criterion Collection has released the film in a four-DVD Region 1 box-set.[5]


  1. ^ Vincendeau, Ginette. "La Pointe Courte: How Agnès Varda "Invented" the New Wave". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  2. ^ Neupert, Richard John. (2007). A history of the French new wave cinema (2nd ed.). Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 57. ISBN 9780299217037. OCLC 538539415.
  3. ^ a b Neupert, Richard John. (2007). A history of the French new wave cinema (2nd ed.). Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780299217037. OCLC 538539415.
  4. ^ "La Pointe Courte | BAMPFA". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  5. ^ Chan, Andrew (24 January 2008). "Agnès Varda's La Pointe Courte on Criterion". Slant. Retrieved 29 March 2019.

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