Sandrine Bonnaire won a Cesar award for her portrayal of Mona, a defiant young drifter who is found frozen in a ditch. Using a largely non-professional cast, famed New Wave filmmaker Agnes Varda recollects Mona's story through the flashbacks of those who encountered her, producing the splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. Told in sparsely poetic images set against the frozen landscape of mid-winter Nimes, this is Varda's masterpiece. Criterion presents Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) in a brilliant color transfer supervised by the director.
The Criterion Collection's original 2000 DVD edition of Agnès Varda's Vagabond presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on a single-layer disc. The film was transferred in standard-definition from a 35mm interpositive. The image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.
There isn't much to say other than, for the time, the presentation was so-so back when it was initially released and has aged poorly to say the least. Even for standard-definition it's incredibly noisy, laced with compression artifacts, limiting details. The source print, while not terrible, also shows a lot of damage still, ranging from bits of dirt to large tram lines. The image is still stable in motion, though, and I have to say colours don't look too bad here. Black levels are also pretty deep, though crushing is an issue in darker shots (to be fair, some of this could be inherent to the source because of limited lighting). Still, it doesn't look very good.
The Dolby Digital 1.0 monaural soundtrack is surprisingly decent. Dialogue can sound a little muffled, yet music manages to have some depth to it. Fidelity isn't too bad as well. There is noticeable background noise and some minor crackling here and there, but I didn't notice any severe pops, drops, or loud cracks.
This original DVD presented no on-disc supplements. Criterion did include an insert with a short essay on the film and Varda's work in general (including a small bit about La Pointe Courte), written by Sandy Flitterman-Lewis. Not a bad write-up but in no way a replacement for anything else.
Thankfully Criterion's 2008 DVD edition (available in the set 4 by Agnès Varda) and the disc for the film found in the Blu-ray Varda set remedy this with a handful of strong features.
This wasn't a terribly good release back in 2000 and yet it has still managed to age like milk. It sports what was, at best for the time, a middling non-anamorphic standard-definition presentation and no supplements whatsoever. Criterion would thankfully remedy this in future DVD and Blu-ray sets for Varda's films.