‘The Gleaners and I’- Agnes Varda

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Scene from ‘The Gleaners and I’ – Introduction

The word Glean brings meaning according to Oxford dictionary (2010), here 1) extract from various source, drugs 2) collect gradually bit by bit or 3) gather. The action of gleaning once part of everyday life. I remembered my grandmother used to brings us to a bush to pick mushrooms, she know which mushroom to pick. At that time it was more due to the type of mushroom that she wanted is not sold in the market. It is one of the rare one, because people don’t know how to cook them. It was after the World War II, she discovered different ways of cooking and learn what type of fruit, mushroom, vegetable that she can pick around the bush (they grow wild) and cook. That is because it was hard to find food. People don’t have money to buy, but most important is not much things are easy to get in the market.. She always reminded us how hard her life has been, and that we should be grateful with what we have now. It was a hard life for her.. This stories from different scene after the World War II is parts of the whole gleaning activities we have with grandmother.. we were just a kid.. we did not to that for long.. we stop eating that mushroom, as the place we use to pick the mushroom have now been developed. And our gleaning activities stop there.

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‘Kulat sisiat’ is the name of the mushroom. Photo of Zakaria Mat Isa.

We seldom hear about gleaning in this modern world we live in. However, there are some countries that still we can find that the gleaning activities is still needed, mainly due to the need to life, to feed the hunger.. But in this documentary, the gleaning activities still can be found in a modern society, in France. The notion of gleaning have shifted, yes it still have to do with hunger but, some people still doing it because they against with the idea of wasting. Some of the products from the market are still eatable and in good condition, but still they get to be throw away because in two or three days (where the market will be closed) it will be bad. So they were thrown away.

This is a documentary made by Agnes Varda, based and inspired by a famous painting by realist painter Jean-François Millet’s “The Gleaners [Les Glaneuses] (1857)”. In her work she discuss about Why people glean? and What stimulate the process of gleaning?. It is an interesting and informative documentary to watch. I cannot post the embedded video here but I can include the link to the introduction of the documentary ‘The Gleaners and I’ by Agnes Varda (2000).

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Jean-François Millet’s “The Gleaners [Les Glaneuses] 1857