Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Happiness is a film that plays with convention. For about the first half of the film, it seems that the family depicted is as happy as can be and everyone plays their traditional age and gender roles. This is accompanied by the gorgeous visuals that Varda shoots for the film, exemplifying the "happiness" and perfect aura surrounding the characters.
By chance the father of the family meets a telephone operator who is much different from his wife, and they have an affair. Instead of the man feeling like he has to choose, he instead finds himself feeling like he is even happier because of it and loves his family even more. He does not know how exactly to tell this to his wife. When he does tell her, she first says she will try to work with it, although it will take some adjustment. But then she goes missing in the park they were staying at and is found dead. The shot that shows her death leaves it ambiguous as to if she committed suicide, or if she died by mistake. This is Varda saying that it does not matter what her motivations were for dying, the fact is she died. This means that the man can not have all that he planned to. This seems to be a comment by Varda saying that nobody can have everything that they want. It also brings up questions of what exactly defines happiness? The father of the family goes on to be with the telephone operator, and his children take a liking to her. In a way, the telephone operator has take the role of the first wife. The family seems to again be happy- but under different circumstances. Are they as happy as they were? Can one move on from death and still be as happy as before? Was the father wrong in his actions? Was it fate that the mother died? Or a conscious decision? It is questions like these that Varda leaves the audience with in her controversial 1965 film.

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