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Agnès Varda: Daguerréotypes + Diary of a Pregnant Woman + The So-Called Caryatids (12A*) + Introduction by Isabelle McNeill

Architecture on Film

The So-Called Caryatids

A triple bill presenting Agnès Varda’s cinematic explorations of her (animate and inanimate) Parisian neighbours.

Three landmark, yet lesser screened, films from Agnès Varda’s singular oeuvre, that journey from the lives of the silent majority to Baudelaire, via the magic of film.

'Daguerréotypes is not a film about the Rue Daguerre (a picturesque street in the fourteenth district of Paris where I live), it is a film about one block of that street (between number 70 and number 90). This is not an inquiry nor a sociological study of the inhabitants, even though it tells a great deal about the ‘silent majority’. It is more or less a casual look at my neighbours. The film could be an archive for archaeologists and sociologists in the next century. As I shot L’opéra-mouffe on rue Mouffetard, Daguerréotypes is my L’opéra-daguerre.' – Agnès Varda

Curated by the Architecture Foundation in partnership with the Barbican.


Isabelle McNeill  is a Philomathia Fellow in French at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, the author of Memory and the Moving Image: French Film in the Digital Era (Edinburgh University Press, 2010 and co-founder of the Cambridge Film Trust.

*Locally classified


Diary of a Pregnant Woman

Varda’s second film sings with the compassion and formal creativity that would become her hallmark as a filmmaker, through an ‘opera’ of Paris’ Rue Mouffetard. Made whilst Varda herself was pregnant (her belly is the film’s first shot), the filmmaker combines documentation of street life with fictive staged scenes, realism with surrealism, to birth a film that observes and imagines the texture of urban life, paying close attention to the lives of the less fortunate through the gaze of a distinctly female flâneur.

France 1958 Dir Agnés Varda 17 min


With great humanism and tenderness, Varda explores the lives and labour of her immediate neighbours. Aided by the magician Mystag, Varda conjures the 90 metres that surround her front door (an area defined by the cable run through her own letter box that powered her equipment) into a cinematic living museum. A time capsule of a block of a road, a celebration of Parisian urbanity, Varda enables her street’s shopkeeper’s to become protagonists in a demonstration of the cinema and life that lies, often overlooked, on the doorstep.

France 1975 Dir Agnés Varda 75 min

The So-Called Caryatids

Through Baudelaire’s poetry, Rameau’s music, and her own singular cinematic and pensive observations, Varda gives voice to the caryatids of Paris – the classical female sculptures used as architectural supports or pillars on building facades. An essay film full of playfulness, poetry and insight, with some of the silent women who literally keep Paris standing at its heart.

France 1984 Dir Agnés Varda 13 min

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