the gleaners

I bet you didn't know that there is a whole genre of grain films. Or maybe it's just that I see grain in everything these days. 

The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) is a art film made by Agnes Varda, a charming but sometimes eccentric film director. She sets off through the French country side to find modern days gleaners and pickers. Varda is inspired by Jean-François Millet's painting of peasants stooped in a wheat field, picking up grain left behind by the reaper.

Varda introduces us to people that pick trash, leftover apples, and rejected potatoes, and she finds that "gleaning might be extinct, but stooping has not vanished from our sated society." Though she never finds Millet's peasants, Varda finds many surprising examples of modern day gleaning.


(Stills from the Gleaners and I. Top: Modern day gleaner cleaning up after a famer's market. Middle: Gleaners in art. Bottom: The filmmaker posing like Jules Breton's Gleaner.)

When we harvest our grain this summer, the combine will inevitably leave some grain behind. I wonder if gleaners come to pick up the leftover heads? 

Posted on June 13, 2012 and filed under Blog.