Ingmar BergmanÆs 1957 Swedish film Wild Strawberries, and Agnes VardaÆs 1984 French film Vagabond are both road films centering on the lead characterÆs journey. In BergmanÆs film, the one-day journey of 76-year old distinguished medical scientist Isak Borg Victor Sjorstrom in a brilliant performance) is inward, a meditation on his life. In VardaÆs film, the journey of the teenaged Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire) is that of an alienated dropout from society who is simply drifting through Southern France in the winter, and more significantly, just drifting through life. Isak attempts to be thoughtful, while Mona opts for thoughtlessness.
Varda does not explain much about MonaÆs motivations except to say that she was a discontented secretary who hated her boss, and left her structured life for that of a vagabond. Film critic Roger Ebert argues that Mona is blank, devoid of ambition. ôShe has gone on the road, not to make her fortune, but to drop out completely from all striving.ö
A work of fiction, Varda framed the movie in a documentary style with herself as narrator. The movie opens with the camera slowly moving through frozen vineyards and then moving in to a shot of the body of a dead young woman lying in a ditch. The storyline is then unfolded through flashbacks dealing with the final weeks of MonaÆs life.
The original English title of the film was Without A Roof and Beyond the Law, a title that more aptly explains MonaÆs choice, while Vagabond, the later title, has a romantic tone to it. MonaÆs life, as depicted by Varda, is anything but romantic. She is aimless, and her decision to drop out of society and her middle-class life leads to her untimely horrible death. The various sections of the film depict Mona hitching rides, wandering the countryside with a knapsack containing a tent, eating and sleeping wherever she can, and having sex. In one section she rejects the advances of a truck driver, and in another sh...