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Carl Theodor Dreyer

Friday, November 5, 2010
9:00 p.m. Vivre sa vie
Jean-Luc Godard (France, 1962)

My Life to Live/Vivre sa vie: film en douze tableaux). Vivre sa vie tells of Nana (Anna Karina), a naive shopgirl, at the brief, flickering moment when she takes responsibility for her life. Because she is unwilling to sell herself (“Lend yourself to others and give yourself to yourself” is the film’s epigraph, from Montaigne), Nana takes to the streets, becoming a prostitute and a student of human emotions. Brechtian in its use of twelve dispassionately announced tableaux, Vivre sa vie is also intensely personal, like the act of prostitution itself. Nana’s crucible is Godard’s existential epiphany, as Nana struggles to see, and say, things as they are, bravely concluding, “All is good.” In the famous scene in a movie theater, Nana’s rapt attention to Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc is a tribute to another who sacrificed control to take control. We see through the face of Falconetti’s Joan to the soul of Nana.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Godard. Photographed by Raoul Coutard. With Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, Brice Parain, André S. Labarthe. (85 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)