My Life to Live – Jean-Luc Godard (1962)


My Life to Live (French: Vivre sa vie : film en douze tableaux; To Live Her Life: A Film in Twelve Scenes) is a 1962 French New Wave drama film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. … Nana (Anna Karina), a beautiful Parisian in her early twenties, leaves her husband and infant son hoping to become an actress. Without money, beyond what she earns as a shopgirl, and unable to enter acting, she elects to earn better money as a prostitute. Soon she has a pimp, Raoul, who after an unspecified period agrees to sell Nana to another pimp. During the exchange the pimps argue and Nana is killed in a gun battle. Nana’s short life on film is told in 12 brief episodes each preceded by a written intertitle. In Vivre sa vie, Godard borrowed the aesthetics of the cinéma vérité approach to documentary film-making that was then becoming fashionable. However, this film differed from other films of the French New Wave by being photographed with a heavy Mitchell camera, as opposed to the light weight cameras used for earlier films. … Godard may have been influenced by it, as Vivre sa vie uses several alienation effects: twelve intertitles appear before the film’s ‘chapters’ explaining what will happen next; jump cuts disrupt the editing flow; characters are shot from behind when they are talking; they are strongly backlit; they talk directly to the camera; the statistical results derived from official questionnaires are given in a voice-over; and so on. The film also draws from the writings of Montaigne, Baudelaire, Zola and Edgar Allan Poe, to the cinema of Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir and Carl Dreyer.  … The film depicts the consumerist culture of Godard’s Paris; a shiny new world of cinemas, coffee bars, neon-lit pool halls, pop records, photographs, wall posters, pin-ups, pinball machines, juke boxes, foreign cars, the latest hairstyles, typewriters, advertising, gangsters and Americana. It also features allusions to popular culture; for example, the scene where a melancholy young man walks into a cafe, puts on a juke box disc, and then sits down to listen. The unnamed actor is in fact the well known singer-songwriter Jean Ferrat, who is performing his own hit tune ‘Ma Môme’ on the track that he has just selected. Nana’s bobbed haircut replicates that made famous by Louise Brooks in the 1928 film Pandora’s Box, where the doomed heroine also falls into a life of prostitution and violent death. In one sequence we are shown a queue outside a Paris cinema waiting to see Jules et Jim, the new wave film directed by François Truffaut, at the time both a close friend and sometime rival of Godard. …”
Wikipedia
Guardian: Vivre sa vie review – quintessential soul-searching from Godard (Video)
New Wave Film (Video)
amazon
YouTube: Vivre sa vie Trailer, Cafe Scene

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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