{the link :youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlBS3PmPfaI}

Godard’s Vivre sa vie {My life to live},  is an unsentimental sketch of twelve distinct episodes, which unfolds the life of a young Parisian Nana (Anna Karina), who works in a record shop, but aspires to be an actress. She, indiscernibly, drifts into prostitution (when it turns dark the streetwalkers’ endless beat begins) to meet her expenses, initially, which, soon, becomes her mainstream occupation, due to her association with harsh-cold-business like- pimp, Raoul. Each episode, like a turning point in her life/a revelation to her, is given certain depth by reflecting the ever growing disengagement of her inner self with the decision she took, a sense of helplessness to break away from it and just to stay in accepting the absurdity of situation {existentialism!}, a realization of gradually being distanced from her dream/ideal slot,  and the essence of each is captured in a title with key variables like the characters, the situation, the location, the decision taken, the action etc, say

“A Café. Nana wants to leave Paul. The Pinball Table” {episode – 1}

“The Record shop – Two thousand francs – Nana lives her life” {episode – 2}

“The Concierge -Paul – The Passion of Joan of Arc – A Journalist” {episode -3}

“The Police. Nana is questioned” {episode – 4}  

“The boulevards. The first man. The room” {episode – 5} 

“Meeting Yvette, A Café in the suburbs, Raoul, Gunshots on the street” {episode- 6}

“The Letter – Raoul again – Champs Elysees” {episode – 7}

“Afternoons – Money – Sinks – Pleasure – Hotels” {episode – 8}

“Young Man – Luigi – Nana wonders if she’s happy’  {episode – 9}

“The Streets – A guy – Happiness is no fun” {episode – 10}

“Place Du Chatelet – A Stranger – Nana the unwitting philosopher” {episode -11}

“Again the Young man – The Oval portrait – Raoul trades Nana” {episode-12} 

…..…, takes the viewer through Nana’s firm decision to walk out of  an existing relationship to realize her big dream, a sense of resignation and cynicism about her as she finds herself trapped further in the depressing depths of her newly chosen life {prostitution}- with no escape, where she is treated as one more “body transaction”  displayed in the streets, an object / a body to be enjoyed or manipulated. It, no longer, is a life, but a kind of existence controlled by some external factors. 

“You only have to take interest in things. After all, things are what they are. A message is a message. Plates are plates. Men are men. And life is life’.

She pursues her new existence of bodily transactions – leading men to hotel rooms, money-talk, undressing, getting naked, smiling for them, etc without the required level of inquisitiveness and energy, physically detached, disinterested, frozen stance when she is held close… “The prostitute must always be at the client’s disposal. She must accept anyone who pays”. And during one of such encounters, she faces rejection as a seasoned prostitute. Her joy of finding a young love is rendered short-lived, as she finds herself sold to a group of men by her pimp. Her life comes to a shocking end when she is caught in a shootout over money. A tale of a woman who tries to escape from a life with constraints, who wants to assert self in this world, but fails to escape from the influence of men in her life.   

I, particularly, liked this dance scene where she begins to dance to the upbeat music, teasing the young man, performing across the room smiling excitedly, expecting the world around to admire her as a “Special Woman” – a woman to be loved, to be admired, to be cared for and whose dreams have to be given the right kind of support, and who should never ever BE EXPLOITED. However, her performance does not evoke much response from the men around, who throw a few glances at her when she passes by.

nana.jpg “In order to live in a society in Paris today, on no matter what level, one is forced to prostitute oneself in one way or another—or to put it another way, to live under conditions resembling those of prostitution ….in a modern society, prostitution is the norm.”  Jean-Luc Godard –(Le Nouvel Observateur 1966)

“It seems to me that in Paris today, we are all living more or less in a state of prostitution. The increase in prostitution, literally speaking, is partial proof of this statement because it calls into question the body, but one  can prostitute oneself just as equally with the mind, the spirit. I think it is a collective phenomenon, and perhaps one which is not altogether new. But what is new is that people find it normal.” –  Jean-Luc Godard

{link:Wiki says, rather than glamorizing prostitution (as in, for example, Pretty Woman), Godard analyses it from a sociological perspective. In fact, one of the film’s original sources is a study of contemporary prostitution…}

{Link: Sensesofcinema:To Appreciate Silence

For eighty-five minutes I sit in silence. I sit in a theatre with a projector behind me and screen in front. A beam of light bounces from one to the other and right before my eyes the life of Nana, played by Anna Karina, materialises. When I emerge from the theatre I have to remind myself that I am not in Paris in the 1960s, that the world does not exist in black and white and nor is it accompanied by a melancholic soundtrack.

I grab a festival flyer and return to my car. I drive home in silence as the last remnants of the film linger in my mind. I can vaguely hear the music from the closing credits. As that music fades I listen to the silence and recall Nana’s words in translation:

– Why must one always talk? Often one shouldn’t talk but live in silence. The more one talks the less words mean.

The camera, in this film, captures Anna Karina and her sensitive face so delicately, like a gentle lover, consciously making an effort not to be intrusive, but to follow carefully and tenderly, those moments of realisation, fun/excitement, subtle frames of her subtle coquettish charm, and fleeting spaces of sadness/gracefully rendered grief. …her face spontaneously, elegantly, captured what she felt at a specific moment, as a quick response to the acts of external world, while on the other hand, maintaining not so easy to capture “her own personal disenchantment towards the world outside……Godard, the director, was her lover and later her husband. 

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