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  • Vivre Sa Vie [DVD][1962]
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Vivre Sa Vie [DVD][1962]

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Product details

  • Actors: Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André S. Labarthe
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Nouveaux
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Mar. 2005
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007NLS88
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,916 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Anna Karina stars in this French drama co-written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. After separating from her husband, Parisian shop assistant Nana (Karina) decides that she wants to become an actress. However, when her finances prevent her from entering the film industry, all Nana's ambition seeps away, and she ends up working the streets of the French capital as a prostitute. Her descent into the business is told in 12 short episodic scenes culminating in her being sold by the pimp Raoul (Sady Rebbot).


To say that Jean-Luc Godard's fourth feature, Vivre sa vie (1962), is about a young Parisian woman who drifts into prostitution would be roughly as useful as saying that Taxi Driver is about the problems facing the Manhattan transportation system. It's true that Godard did, in the 60s, seem to have a bee in his bonnet about the oldest profession, and it went on to buzz ever more angrily the more he cuddled up to the doctrines of Marx, who instructed him that under late capitalism we are all prostitutes. It's also true that one section of Vivre sa vie, which is divided up into a dozen tableaux, offers a bland, documentary-style account of the French sex industry that could have been made for a news and current affairs slot.

Even so, it's clear--especially four decades on--that whoredom is only one of the many topics on Godard's hyperactive brain. The scenes which you take away from the film aren't the sexy bits (which are few, and almost glacially offhand) but the exasperating, perverse or anguished bits: Nana, the heroine (Anna Karina) alone in a cinema, silently weeping at and for the silent vision of Maria Falconetti in Carl Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc; Nana in a pool hall, improvising an artlessly peppy dance routine; Nana in a café, endlessly talking Plato, Hegel and Kant with the grizzled, real-life philosopher Brice Parain.

In short, the truest subject of Vivre sa vie--and it is a rich one--is nothing other than its star, Anna Karina, the piercingly beautiful model who had married her director just a year before, and who obviously inspired him to perplexity, rapture and despair. Technically, the film is insouciant to the point of arrogance--Godard constantly fiddles around with the soundtrack, the camera movements and framing as if all the usual rules of cinema were a pair of itchy underpants--and yet the film aches with melancholy. It's unlikely that the video will make many new converts, but for those willing to pay the price of admission to Godard's world (and the price includes boredom), the reward is one of the strangest and most troubling love letters in the history of cinema--apart from Godard's half-dozen other films about his wife, that is. --Kevin Jackson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 9 July 2005
Format: DVD
A film shot as a series of twelve tableaux, twelve scenes from a life, "Vivre Sa Vie" opens with a Magritte-like take on the back of Anna Karina's head. It's at once magnetic and depersonalising as we observe two people sitting side-by-side in a Parisian café, not communicating. This is the dissolution of a relationship, the passion stirred into the past like cream into coffee. This is also the dissolution of a person, of a character, into a series of structured images.
We move to the record shop where Nana (Anna Karina) works. We see her arguing with the concierge, losing her home. She is interviewed by the police. She walks the streets, embracing her first client in functional, emotionless commerce. She seeks life, she seeks love, she seeks escape, but all the while her world is being shaped by the men in her life. All the while her options are closing down, all the while she is destined to reach the end of the film. She has to take responsibility for her own decisions and actions, yet she is merely an actress at the whim of those who would script and dress and direct her life, her images and self-images contrived and devoid of intrinsic personality.
The film juxtaposes these twelve blocks of Nana's life - we understand a person by following a narrative. Change the order of the narrative and we change our understanding of the individual. Godard deliberately fragments Nana's life, presenting her as an unreality: he breaks away from an artistic tradition of inviting the viewer to suspend disbelief and enter into the story, become absorbed by it. Here, he consciously reminds us that we are watching a piece of cinema, that we are viewing a construction, something unreal, yet something which relies on the naturalistic imagery of the Paris in which it is filmed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hywel James TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of the things that strike you after seeing this wonderful movie is how much the world of cinema has changed since the early 1960's and the French New Wave - and not necessarily changed for the better. The grainy, jumpy, stark and no-nonsense filming and editing tell a story which is touching, tender and tough by turns, and, finally, brutally frank. The approach underlines the drama of the story perfectly.

Likewise the shots of Paris streets, often seen through cafe windows or reflected in the chrome of expresso machines, offer an historical record of a time and place that has changed almost beyond recall.

A great movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Mar. 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Godard’s “Vivre Sa Vie” is only available on ‘BLU RAY’ in the States. But therein lies a problem for UK and European buyers…

The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Until such time as someone on this side of the water gives this 1964 French gem a REGION B and C release – check your BLU RAY player has the capacity to play REGION A – before you buy the pricey Criterion issue…
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Nov. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an uncharacteristically sober film for Godard - a strikingly unexpected follow-up (and harsh antidote?) to the extraordinary, madcap playfulness of Une Femme est une Femme, which treated the Parisian sex industry as a light-hearted backdrop for its menage a trois. Vivre Sa Vie is a much stiffer, colder film: 4:3, black and white, few smiles (though the other Godard breaks through from time to time) and the allusions to Dreyer make this stylistic choice explicit. Personally, I miss the romantic chemistry of his three previous features (which would perhaps be out of place here) - this film has its focus solely on Anna Karina, and when she momentarily becomes Angela from Une Femme est une Femme, what a relief!

Nevertheless, the three stars is for the DVD itself, which has clumsily translated, burnt-in subtitles, which, because of Godard and Coutard's tendency to place faces at the bottom of the frame with acres of headroom, regularly obscure Anna Karina's face - in a film that is all about Anna Karina's face!
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