Vivre Sa Vie – dir.Jean-Luc Godard, 1962

Has any other film approached the subject of life itself quite so masterfully? As a series of vignettes, Vivre Sa Vie, explores the hopes and the subsequent decline of Nana (Anna Karina).  Nana, who’s Rimbaudian ‘I is another,’ detachment to the present, aspires to become an actress. Unable to make a break for herself, having abandoned her husband and facing impoverishment, Nana drifts into prostitution.  Godard crafts the film so that the scenes are perfectly compact in themselves, using innovations in sound editing; the frames melt into one another. Glorious, rich, and luxurious shots of  Paris, and the beautiful Nana, crank the film along. The inside of the brothels, stark and monochrome, with windows looking out on to the moody Parisian streets, brings forth the realities of the social situation. The girl here is a definite dreamer, she is looking to be saved, looking for an escape route, she asks some shady journalist to take her photograph.  She is content at being the woman watched, but at what price must she pay when perhaps all along it was that she wanted to be listened to.  The philosophical undertone to the film is most conspicuous on Nana’s meeting an elderly man in a Café.  He tells her about the thinking life and how it is more difficult and painful but ultimately more rewarding than the elementary one.  Bemused and girlish, but unfazed by his sagacity, she asks him about love.  He tells her that love is a solution on condition that it’s true.  The wisdom of the film is far superior to the fatalistic story, intended to highlight the social cause at its heart. The tragic end comes soon after Nana is told by a lover that ‘art and beauty is life,’ which in that moment she embodies. Wide eyed and loving, it is a strange fleeting scene, which whistles past as though it were a moment, not in Nana’s, but someone else’s life.



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