Vivre Sa Vie [DVD]
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Edition comprehensive and superbly performed with three short films by Godard
The Criterion edition is zoned A, this edition allows me to finally see this film in good condition because unfortunately in France is edited unfortunately only big blockbuster US :(
Can we expect the release of "La jetée" (1962) by Chris Marker?
Merci à BFI d'avoir édité ce film français de Godard surtout dans 2 éditions différentes (avec les intertitres en anglais mais aussi en français)
Edition très complète et superbement réalisée avec 3 court métrages de Godard
L'édition Criterion est zoné A, cette édition me permet de voir enfin ce film dans de bonne condition car malheureusement en France on édite que malheureusement que les gros blockbuster US :(
A quand "La jetée" (1962) de Chris Marker ?
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…
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We could not get into this, gave up within 20 minutes, maybe it gets better, frankly we don't care.Published 6 months ago by iggi_1
A bit late and the box was cracked but that was probably caused by the mailservice.
The film is what it was expected to be.
This is an uncharacteristically sober film for Godard - a strikingly unexpected follow-up (and harsh antidote? Read morePublished on 7 Nov. 2010 by Amazon Customer