“I’m an empty body, without you, without you.” Cleo’s heartbreaking song, camera face on a black background, is echoed now that death is no longer a threat to Cleo’s hero of 5 to 7, but a reality for the filmmaker who has given a voice to women.
While the New Wave is in full swing with hero figures with wrinkled feathers, because the women resist them (Out of breath) or disappoint (the adulterous mother of the Four Hundred Blows ), Agnès Varda – the only woman stamped group – stands out. After her debut feature La Pointe Courte, Varda is not afraid to build a film about an unpleasant, selfish heroine who only thinks about her image and her career.
Cléo flips into the film at the moment of this song, Without you, passing from the status of consumer item (Cléo is a singer of variety) to that of subject questioning its reflection and that of others. Cleo starts to look. As Sandy Flitterman-Lewis has analyzed: “It ceases to be an object built by the gaze of men, and assumes the power to look.”
This is what happens when Cléo enters the room where her friend Dorothée poses nude from behind, and that the camera passes subjective view. Cléo slowly approaches her. We see men and women carving the body of the model, all in their own way, the body of Dorothea which is multiplied.
He is never sexualized either by the eyes of Cléo or by that of the camera. Along the film, Varda questions the relationship between the muse and the artist, nudity and desire. Already Varda’s camera tells us that the female body is multiple and that we can film it without eroticizing it, and even give it an aura of power. We are in 1962.