Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

USA , 110 min

Shown in 1969


Agnès Varda
Max L. Rabb
Agnès Varda
Stefan Larner
Viva, Jerome Ragni, James Rado, Shirley Clarke, Carlos Clarens, Eddie Constantine, Max Laemmle, Hal Landers


Max L. Rabb Productions


Agnès Varda, Viva, Jerome Ragni, James Rado in person.
Lion’s Love

This is Agnès Varda’s first English-language film, and one of the wildest, most zany experimental comedies ever made in Hollywood. Varda is the great French director whose previous works, including Le Bonheur, are internationally renowned, and during a recent sojourn in Los Angeles, she became impressed by the pop world atmosphere of Southern California and decided to make a film about it. The whole 1968–69 period fills the picture, and as its focal point, the adventures of three slightly older flower children in the midst of acting out their own psychodramas. It was a stroke of absolute genius to cast Viva, the Garboesque oracle of the underground cinema, and the writer-singers of Hair in the leading roles: they live in a world of sunlight, daydreams and luxurious hippie paraphernalia, three lovable demons with lots of soul. Into their lives come Shirley Clarke (yes, the famous director) to star in a film project. So, we have a film within a film, keeping us on the edge of satire and in the midst of improvisation. What results is a fresh, vividly colorful “happening,” into which Agnès Varda has crammed her impressions of the new Hollywood. It is a playland haunted by ghosts of dead movie stars, either in its street signs or emblazoned sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard and, during the period in which this film was made, the sudden violence in American society interrupt the gaieties with severe impact. Since Varda’s political awarenesses are forever keen, alert to the juxtaposition of ironies in this country, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the near-assassination of Andy Warhol are facets of reality that encroach upon the gambols of our three protagonists. As a mockery of American moral platitudes, a filmed excerpt from Michael McClure’s play, The Beard (before it was closed by the Los Angeles police), is contrasted to a parody of the same scene enacted at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. By having this charade observed by a hip audience of turned-on juveniles, it is implied that probably only those under 20 are the true hippies, or under 14. At any rate, Lion’s Love is a paean to the long-maned hedonists of today, guileful, humanistic and a trifle sad—ultimately, searchers for a snowless Shangri-La.

—Albert Johnson