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Cleo From 5 to 7 (Subtitled) (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)

Corinne Marchand , Antoine Bourseiller , Agnès Varda    Unrated   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Agnes Varda, the lone woman in the French New Wave boys' club, made her reputation with her second feature Cleo from 5 to 7, a 90-minute drama set in real time exploring the internal turmoil of a flighty young pop singer who awaits the results of a medical examination for cancer. Leaving behind her elegant, almost antiseptic apartment for the bustle of the Parisian streets, she weaves through crowds and watches street performers while struggling with her fears and self-recriminations, confronting her shortcomings and finding hope in a chance meeting with a young soldier. Varda captures the vibrant social world and its easy rhythms in creamy black and white with smooth long takes, bringing an almost tactile quality to Cleo's personal odyssey, punctuated with chapter titles marking the time until her appointment at the hospital. Corinne Marchand's Cleo enters as a spoiled adolescent, but introspective internal monologues and brief encounters with strangers etch a portrait of a woman hiding her fears under a façade of flightiness, only discarding the mask when she firmly embraces life in the face of possible death. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

Agnes Varda's Cleo From 5 to 7 wonderfully captures the vivid beauty of "everyday" Paris in the 1960s. A visual treat, this Criterion DVD release is a perfect means to view this French New Wave classic outside the theater. Agnes Varda herself supervised its digital transfer created from a 35mm fine-grain master positive. This letterboxed edition, presented in its original 1.66 aspect ratio, includes the 'telling' restored, opening color sequence with the Tarot card reader. Clearly presenting Cleo's life story through a series of antiquated images, this color sequence adds a strong dramatic contrast to the film's black and white imagery. All in all, Criterion's Cleo From 5 to 7 is a sharp presentation of a timeless classic. --Rob Bracco

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a film which hits home for me May 25 2004
By Ted
Format:DVD
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film. As a cancer survivor, I feel for the woman in this movie.
This film occurs in almost real-time like the TV series 24. The 90 minute film covers the events between 5 and 7 PM as a woman awaits the results of a biopsy. She goes through town and meets various people. The film has great acting and has a full-color sequence at the beginning of the film when cleo is seeing a Tarot card reader in an attempt to predict what will happen to her. The original French title of the film is "Cléo de 5 à 7"
The Criterion DVD does not have any special features which is rather unusual for a Criterion Collection DVD.
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Format:DVD
Cleo (Corinne Marchand), a successful singer, fears the result of a biopsy as she is anxiously anticipating the results of her test. While waiting, Cleo has a fortuneteller read her cards, which predict death. This leads Cleo to expect that she will die from cancer. The film depicts Cleo's two hour long wait for the results of the biopsy as she is restlessly searching for a meaning. As she searches she discovers our own self-importance and insignificance in the world. Agnès Varda directs a superb vision of Cleo's wait and pursuit, which is in the true spirit of French New Wave. An example of the realism of French New Wave is the opening scene, shot in color that fades into black and white, which visually enhances the psychological undertones of the film's theme. Another example is the crude camera work that becomes apparent as the camera pans and moves with Cleo elevating the cinematic experience to a genuine event. It is this genuine feel that makes this cinematic experience amazing and it leaves the audience with something to ponder.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic Tour de Force March 20 2004
Format:DVD
Even if French New Wave Cinema of the 1950's and 1960's is of no interest to you, don't be put off seeing this incredible film. If you do have an interest in films from this period and you haven't yet seen "Cleo" then make a promise to yourself to see this film now. Director Agnes Varda made a movie back in 1960-61 that rises above language, time, place and fashion to be a masterpiece in world cinema. In some respects this is a neglected masterpiece as it is seldom spoken in the same breath as films like "400 Blows", but that makes the pleasure of discovering it all the more sweet. Amongst the highlights - a gorgeous and clever score by Michel Legrand who makes a wonderful appearance as "Bob, the Pianist"; astonishing camerawork throughout - innumerable sequences that make you wonder "how did they do that?". Varda is such an assured filmmaker that she can turn what at first appear to be momentary lapses of energy and inspiration into ever more revealing and moving climaxes. One of the great movies. You won't regret spending a summer evening in Paris with Cleo.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic Triumph -- Visually and Narritively Jan. 27 2004
By smarmer
Format:DVD
The basic story of Cleo From 5 to 7 has been stated by other reviewers. In brief, it chronicles two hours in the life of Cleo, a singer, as she waits for the results of tests that will diagnose her stomach ailment. Starting with the brief Tarot Card reading (in color) -- spoiler alert -- the prediction that Cleo faces death, the film reverts to black and white. But what a masterpiece of black and white photography!
The adventures of Cleo during the two hours (real time and cinematic time) of waiting reveal the gradual peeling away of her narcissism. Another alert reviewer spoke about "reading" this film. He gave as an example the time on the clocks every time Cleo walks by one. An even more subtle and more telling example of how the visual images express the plot development and the transformation of the main character is in the reflections seen in windows and mirrors. During her more narcissistic moments at the beginning of the film we note that every time Cleo walks by a window we see her reflection, and she often notices it as well. As the film progresses the reflections in windows and mirrors gradually diminishes. By the end of the film there are no more windows and mirrors and Cleo is just her human self -- without the added narcissistic reflections.
In the last twenty minutes or so of the film Cleo has what approximates an unpretentious reloationship with an ordinary fellow, a soldier on leave who is about to return to his unit to fight in Algeria. He agrees to accompany her to the hospital where she is about to get her test results. When they arrive the doctor is not there. In resignation they walk out only to encounter the doctor leaving in his car.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites of all time. Dec 18 2002
Format:DVD
It's odd, I know, to call a film charming when its focus is about a woman's two hours of waiting before finding out if she has cancer. But "Cleo" isn't a sad story about cancer, really. It's a charming story about how to live your life somewhere between the superficial and profound when something alarming happens.
Cleo's a pop singer. She sings light ditties that get French radio play. She spends her time shopping for hats, hanging out in cafes, carrying on meaningless-if-romantic affairs with songwriters. She's beautiful. She's fashionable. On the surface, she looks like she's having a good time. And she usually is.
This movie's about what she did in the two hours before receiving her prognosis from her doctor. Should she just go on and live life as if nothing's come along to trouble her? If she chooses to, how does she go about confronting her own mortality?
Corinne Marchand, as Cleo, chooses both paths for her. As she wanders the streets of Paris, she plays Cleo as though she's unable to decide whether to be happy-go-lucky. Thus, the lush, beautiful film by Agnes Varda is both light and resonant, fun and meaningful.
It's like an "Amelie" that will make you cry as well as laugh.
Done in a style predating the French New Wave, it manages to be about how to go shopping when you may be about to die.
And the Criterion release is just great.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmosphere for each scene
totally engrosses the viewer to live the 2 hours that Cleo lives. Varda sets divided then sets up the chapters of the film into atmospheres that reveal so mouch more about our lead... Read more
Published on March 18 2002 by Stephen Provencio
5.0 out of 5 stars Varda's masterpiece rivals the best of Godard or Truffaut.
In my view, Agnes Varda, with the possible exception of Alain Resnais, is the most underrated French New Wave director. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars HIghly original film a one-of-a-kind classic!
What's wonderful about this film has already been pretty well described in many of the preceding reviews. I'd just like to add two things. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2001 by inframan
5.0 out of 5 stars My #3 favorite film
and I've seen a lot of them.
Published on Aug. 28 2001 by A reader from Auckland, New Zealand
3.0 out of 5 stars Paris (not Cleo) From 5 to 7
Perhaps Cleo, or, indeed, Corinne Marchand, is an existentialist, because she faces the prospect of a diagnosis of cancer with remarkable equanimity. Read more
Published on June 8 2001 by Robert Bezimienny
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive: Thought-Provoking & Beautiful
What to praise most? The beauty and talent of Corinne Marchand as Cleo? The superior directing skill and incomparable style of Agnes Varda? Read more
Published on May 23 2001 by Colin Paterson
4.0 out of 5 stars Varda's Cleo has more mirrors than anything by Fassbinder.
There are so many visual tricks going on in this film it can make you "breathless". Keep an eye open for the movie poster of Un Chien Andalou that appears center screen... Read more
Published on May 20 2001 by KSG
4.0 out of 5 stars Gay and Grave
The film that put New Wave director Agnes Varda on the map, CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 looks spiffy here, as expected from a Criterion transfer. Read more
Published on March 27 2001 by Randy Buck
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