Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Life of a Language Student

     by Nuala Murphy   © 2013

It is 3p.m. on a Thursday afternoon. I'm sitting in my dressing gown, writing an e-mail to my cousin.  I don't feel as if this lounging around the house is totally unproductive and indulgent however. I'm busy listening to French radio as I'm writing. This has always been one of the great benefits of studying foreign languages. The act of studying can take many forms, from passive studying i.e. listening to France inter on the radio while writing waffly e-mails, to more active forms, such as meeting French friends in the pub and again engaging in waffle ''en français bien sûr !"

'The conscientious language student should try to make use of different media forms in their study.'  With this in mind, a few hours later, two friends and I are at a UCC French department showing of a film called 'les plages d'Agnes', about the life and work of the surrealist French film-maker and photographer Agnes Varda.  There must be a grand total of 12 people watching the film in the lecture theatre in UCC (capacity of about 300). The three of us sit in the back row, eating biscuits and chocolate-covered peanuts, and skitting at the film. It is genuinely funny. At one stage there is a clip of Agnes Varda lying Cleopatra-like on the beach, in an enormous beautifully coloured tent in the shape of a whale. She explains that she was influenced by the story of 'Jonah and the whale' and says that she feels safe in the belly of the whale!!  There is another clip of her later in the film, dressed in a strange brown costume. She explains quite frankly and with the lovely logic of a surrealist, that she has decided to dress as a talking potato in order to draw people in to an exhibition of her photography. In one of the final scenes of the film Agnes Varda is collecting brushes. She has a collection of about 80 brushes. My friend and I decide that this is possibly because Agnes Varda's act is as daft as 80 brushes! We laugh, because we are both aware of the old saying "as daft as a brush" and also ''it takes one to know one!"   

A thoroughly enjoyable film,  and a good evening's study!  

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