Mur Murs

Last updated
Mur Murs
Mur Murs Agnes Varda poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Agnès Varda
Written byAgnès Varda
Narrated byAgnès Varda
Cinematography Bernard Auroux
Edited by Sabine Mamou
Release date
Running time
82 minutes
LanguagesFrench, English

Mur Murs ( [myʁ myʁ] , French for "wall walls", also punning on English "murmurs") is a 1981 documentary film directed by Agnès Varda. The film explores the murals of Los Angeles, California. [1]


Subject and style

The vast majority of the scenes of the film are shots of murals, all of which are located in the city of Los Angeles, often with the mural's painter or model staged in front of the mural for dramatic effect. The film alternates between voiceover narration by Agnès Varda and commentary about the murals provided by the murals' creators, as well as commentary provided by locals living in the area. The film also includes several musical performances, including by Chicano punk band Los Illegals.

A significant amount of the film's attention is focused on work by Chicano artists, although artists from other backgrounds are also covered extensively. The film also dwells on the role of state violence, both as it affects the communities the murals are situated in and the murals themselves. [2]

The film's title is a pun: literally "Wall Walls" in French, Varda suggests that the murals on the walls are in fact murmuring to each other. [2]

Production and release

Mur Murs was produced by Varda alongside Documenteur: An Emotion Picture , a drama film about a French woman living in Los Angeles, set against the same murals that are the subject of Mur Murs and starring several of the people who worked on Mur Murs. [2]

The film was screened at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.

Reception and legacy

A contemporary review in The New York Times written for a screening of the film at a film festival described the film as "lively and energetic". [1]

In a review published by Film School Rejects about a Criterion Collection box set of Agnès Varda's films shot in California, Farah Cheded describes Mur Murs's as having "perfect composition" in its depiction of "dazzlingly painted" walls. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Agnès Varda</span> French photographer, artist, film director and screenwriter

Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director, screenwriter, photographer, and artist. Her pioneering work was central to the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her films focused on achieving documentary realism, addressing women's issues, and other social commentary, with a distinctive experimental style.

<i>Vagabond</i> (1985 film) 1985 French film

Vagabond is a 1985 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda, featuring Sandrine Bonnaire. It tells the story of a young woman, a vagabond, who wanders through the Languedoc-Roussillon wine country one winter. The film premiered at the 42nd Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion. Vagabond was nominated for four César Awards, with Bonnaire winning Best Actress. The film was the 36th highest-grossing film of the year with a total of 1,080,143 admissions in France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacques Demy</span> French film director

Jacques Demy was a French director, lyricist, and screenwriter. He appeared at the height of the French New Wave alongside contemporaries like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. Demy's films are celebrated for their visual style, which drew upon diverse sources such as classic Hollywood musicals, the plein-air realism of his French New Wave colleagues, fairy tales, jazz, Japanese manga, and the opera. His films contain overlapping continuity, lush musical scores and motifs like teenage love, labor rights, chance encounters, incest, and the intersection between dreams and reality. He was married to Agnès Varda, another prominent director of the French New Wave. Demy is best known for the two musicals he directed in the mid-1960s: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967).

Los Illegals is an American Chicano punk band from Los Angeles.

<i>Great Wall of Los Angeles</i> Mural in Los Angeles, California, United States

The Great Wall of Los Angeles is a mural designed by Judith Baca and executed with the help of over 400 community youth and artists coordinated by the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC). The mural, on the concrete sides of the Tujunga Wash in the San Fernando Valley was Baca's first mural and SPARC's first public art project. Under the official title of The History of California, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mathieu Demy</span> French actor, film director and producer

Mathieu Demy is a French actor, film director and producer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kent Twitchell</span> American muralist (born 1942)

Kent Twitchell is an American muralist who is most active in Los Angeles. He is most famous for his larger-than-life mural portraits, often of celebrities and artists. His murals are realism not photorealism according to Twitchell.

Los Four was a Chicano artist collective active based in Los Angeles, California. The group was instrumental in bringing the Chicano art movement to the attention of the mainstream art world.

<i>The Gleaners and I</i> 2000 French film

The Gleaners and I is a 2000 French documentary film by Agnès Varda that features various kinds of gleaning. It was entered into competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and later went on to win awards around the world. In a 2014 Sight & Sound poll, film critics voted The Gleaners and I the eighth best documentary film of all time. In 2016, the film appeared at No. 99 on BBC's list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century. The film was included for the first time in 2022 on the critics' poll of Sight and Sound's list of the greatest films of all time, at number 67.

Jean "Yanko"Varda was an American artist, best known for his collage work. Varda was one of the early adopters of the Sausalito houseboat lifestyle that was popular in the 1960s–1970s.

<i>Le Bonheur</i> (1965 film) 1965 French film by Agnès Varda

Le Bonheur ("Happiness") is a 1965 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda. The film is associated with the French New Wave and won two awards at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival, including the Jury Grand Prix.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chicano art movement</span>

The Chicano Art Movement represents groundbreaking movements by Mexican-American artists to establish a unique artistic identity in the United States. Much of the art and the artists creating Chicano Art were heavily influenced by Chicano Movement which began in the 1960s.

Willie Herrón III is an American Chicano muralist, performance artist and commercial artist.

Asco was an East Los Angeles based Chicano artist collective, active from 1972 to 1987. Asco adopted its name as a collective in 1973, making a direct reference to the word's significance in Spanish ("asco"), which is disgust or repulsion. Asco's work throughout 1970s and 1980s responded specifically to socioeconomic and political problems surrounding the Chicano community in the United States, as well the Vietnam War. Harry Gamboa Jr., Glugio "Gronk" Nicandro, Willie Herrón and Patssi Valdez form the core members of the group.

<i>Black Panthers</i> (film) 1968 short documentary film directed by Agnès Varda

Black Panthers is a 1968 short documentary film directed by Agnès Varda.

Documenteur also known as Documenteur: An Emotion Picture is a French-American feature film by French director Agnès Varda. The film debuted at the 1981 Toronto International Film Festival.

<i>Faces Places</i> (film) 2017 film

Faces Places is a 2017 French documentary film directed by Agnès Varda and JR. It was screened out of competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it won the L'Œil d'or award. The film follows Varda and JR traveling around rural France, creating portraits of the people they come across. It was released on 28 June 2017 in France and 6 October 2017 in the United States. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards. The film was Varda's second-to-last work, preceding Varda by Agnès in 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chicana art</span>

Beginning with the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, Chicanas used art to express political and social resistance. Through different art mediums both past and contemporary, Chicana artists have continued to explore and interrogate traditional Mexican-American values and embody feminist themes through different mediums including murals, painting, photography, and more. The momentum created from the Chicano Movement spurred a Chicano Renaissance among Chicanas and Chicanos. Political art was created by poets, writers, playwrights, and artists and used to defend against their oppression and societal marginalization. During the 1970s, Chicana feminist artists differed from their Anglo-feminist counterparts in the way they collaborated. Chicana feminist artists often utilized artistic collaborations and collectives that included men, while Anglo-feminist artists generally utilized women-only participants.

A Mexican American is a resident of the United States who is of Mexican descent. Mexican American-related topics include the following:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murals of Los Angeles</span>

Greater Los Angeles, California, is home to thousands of murals, earning it the nickname "the mural capital of the world" or "the mural capital of America." The city's mural culture began and proliferated throughout the 20th century. Murals in Los Angeles often reflect the social and political movements of their time and highlight cultural symbols representative of Southern California. In particular, murals in Los Angeles have been influenced by the Chicano art movement and the culture of Los Angeles. Murals are considered a distinctive form of public art in Los Angeles, often associated with street art, billboards, and contemporary graffiti.


  1. 1 2 Maslin, Janet (2 October 1981). "AGNES VARDA'S MURALS". The New York Times . Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Cheded, Farah (20 June 2018). "When Agnès Varda Went to California". Film School Rejects . Retrieved 21 April 2019.