Vivre Sa Vie: Film En Douze Tableaux
(My Life To Live)
After three decidedly crazy ventures, Godard shuts the mouths of critics with his next film My Life to Live (1962). More sober than all of his previous ventures, Vivre Sa Vie follows the life of a wannabe-actress who takes up casual prostitution to make ends meet. With significantly long shots that are as intriguing as his jump cuts, Godard organically captures the quotidian and empty life of his protagonist. My Life to Live is probably one of the few Godard films to get universal acclaim. Supposedly one of the most distressing shoot for the crew, especially for Anna, because of Godard’s sporadic fits of anger and frustration.
The film is divided into 12 segments each of which consists of an encounter that Nana has with the people she meets. Godard employs a range of film techniques – Drama, cinema vérité, newsreel and documentary – without relinquishing the staple film references along the way. Probably the most famous scene in the film, Nana’s rendezvous with Dreyer’s hypnotic classic The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) encompasses everything the film stands for. We see a shattered Nana breakdown at the trial of Joan of Arc as Godard replicates the extreme close-up, definitely as homage to Dreyer too, as if suggesting that Nana herself is like Joan of Arc – tried by the cruel society forcing her to recant her belief of a respectable life.
Godard studies his main character with religious focus. I don’t know what was running through his mind while filming Anna at various distances and angles, but I’m guessing that whatever is presented in the film is a manifestation of their personal relationship and how Godard perceived Karina. Godard’s fascination with prostitution begins here and would go on to take up multiple meanings in his future films, especially the political ones. And there is also the typically self-indulgent Godard’s philosophy that occupies a whole chapter towards the end of the film.