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Vivre sa Vie (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1962)

Anna Karina , Saddy Rebbot , Jean-Luc Godard  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Karina, Saddy Rebbot, Gilles Quéant, Jean Ferrat, André S. Labarthe
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0035ECI0I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,748 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Vivre sa Vie (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholar Adrian Martin
  • Video interview with film scholar Jean Narboni, conducted by historian Noël Simsolo
  • Television interview from 1962 with actress Anna Karina
  • Excerpts from a 1961 French television exposé on prostitution
  • Illustrated essay on La prostitution, the book that served as inspiration for the film
  • Stills gallery
  • Director Jean-Luc Godard’s original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson, interviews with Godard, a reprint by critic Jean Collet on the film’s soundtrack, and Godard’s original scenario

  • Editorial Reviews

    Product Description

    Vivre sa vie was a turning point for Jean-Luc Godard and remains one of his most dynamic films, combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study. The lovely Anna Karina, Godard’s greatest muse, plays Nana, a young Parisian who aspires to be an actress but instead ends up a prostitute; her downward spiral is depicted in a series of discrete tableaux of daydreams and dances. Featuring some of Karina and Godard’s most iconic moments—from her movie theater vigil with The Passion of Joan of Arc to her seductive pool-hall strut—Vivre sa vie is a landmark of the French New Wave that still surprises at every turn.

    Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave were at the height of their power and creativity when Godard released Vivre Sa Vie (Living Her Life) in 1962. And watching it again, years later, instantly transports one to the era where an offhand remark, a lazy circle of cigarette smoke, a sidelong glance, a disaffected "I don't care about you" could all communicate deep, conflicted longing, alienation, postwar malaise, and infinite possibility. In fact, watching Vivre Sa Vie, starring Godard's lovely muse, Anna Karina, is at once both enervating--and exhilarating. The film is subtitled Film en Douze Tableaux, and the story shows Karina as Nana in 12 different short films, snapshots of her lonely, seemingly aimless life--in scenes that stay with the viewer for days afterward. In the very first tableau, Nana and a former lover, Paul (André S. Labarthe), are having a sad, disjointed conversation in a café--are they breaking up? Getting back together? The pain and power of the scene lies in its ambiguousness. And Godard and his brilliant cinematographer, Raoul Coutard, shoot this initial scene, of the most intimate conversation between two lovers, entirely from behind them. The sad, longing remarks, barbs, halfhearted entreaties--they are all communicated while the viewer looks just at the back of Karina's sleek black bob and Labarthe's scruffy hair. Only near the end of that scene, as the viewer is practically craning forward to connect to the characters, do we get a glimpse of half of a cheek, one eyebrow. And from this moment, Godard and the cast have the viewer enthralled. In a later tableau, we watch long, uninterrupted scenes of The Passion of Joan of Arc--in itself a treat--and the supposedly disaffected heroine Nana weeping rivers of tears, silently, in the theater. There are many layers to this lovely young woman, and each of the 12 snapshots of her life reveals more. Nana's life becomes a tragedy, as she descends into prostitution--yet along the way, her luminescence is revealed in small ways. In one scene, she recalls a writing exercise from when she was a child. "Birds are creatures with an outside, and an inside," she recites. "When you remove the outside, you see the inside. When you remove the inside, you see the soul." The shattering beauty of Vivre Sa Vie is that Godard and Karina allow us to see the outside, then the inside, and then finally, the soul. The Criterion Collection edition offers true cinema riches, especially in an interview with Karina from 1962, several modern commentaries putting Godard and the film in its historical context, reportage from early-'60s France on the dire situation of prostitutes at the time, a booklet of film criticism, and much more. --A.T. Hurley

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite Godard films April 21, 2010
    My Life to Live is a highly stylized and extraordinarily unformulaic adaptation of a simple premise: a young woman, seeking the freedom and excitement of, what Federico Fellini calls La Dolce Vita, leaves her family to pursue an acting career, only to turn to a life of prostitution. From the opening sequence showing a detached, seemingly clinical exhibition of Anna Karina's face and profile, followed by an uneasy dialogue between Nana (Karina) and Paul (Andre-S. Labarthe) filmed at an angle showing the backs of their heads, we are introduced to the singular, iconoclastic vision that is Jean-Luc Godard. Stripped of expression and sentimentality, Godard, nevertheless, succeeds in creating a film that is visually stunning and full of pathos. We are drawn to Anna, not because of her seductive persona or compassionate actions, but because she is humanity, lost and desperate, incapable of comprehending her misery nor articulating her pain (Note the parallel character of Antonio Ricci in Vittorio de Sica's The Bicycle Thief.

    Godard's revolutionary camerawork transcends nouvelle vague novelty: it serves as a cinematic extension of Nana's soul. The awkward angles and long panning shots during Nana and Paul's conversations reveals the underlying tension and emotional distance between them. Deeply affected (understandably) by Maria Falconetti's performance in Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, Nana's conversation proceeds in silent film intertitles - reflecting her own suffering and innate desire to achieve greatness and escape the banality of her sordid life. The seamless camerawork following Nana as she dances uninhibitedly around the billiard room feels intoxicating, almost mesmerizing - a fleeting glimpse of the few brief moments of pure joy she has ever known. My Life to Live is a truly remarkable film: a synthesis of artistic vision and moral tale, suffused with haunting melody, the ballad of a contemporary tragedy.
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    I cannot imagine anyone seeing this movie and ever being able to forget it. The director examines a life (Nana) and offers 12 discrete episodes that jump in time. Taken together, they paint Nana's gradual descent into prostitution...when she runs out of money and loses her dream of becoming an actress.

    The movie begins with the camera focused on the back of the woman's head, with her face (only) reflected in the mirror. She talks to the mirror, not to her boyfriend beside her, about the pain of the breakup. Another episode involves her being in the audience at a movie theater showing another movie on screen: Carl Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc". In this episode, Nana silently weeps. (Not coincidentally, Joan of Arc was punished by men for trying to act as one). Then there is the episode where Nana casually allows a man to make love to her for money. This is the first instance she trades sex for money. It is pertinent she resists the man's desperate efforts to kiss her on the mouth. Soon afterwards, there is a scene where a man embraces her in a hotel room while she looks away, all the while emotionally distant - smoking her cigarette.

    A very powerful episode is one where she dances around a pool table listening to jukebox music - it's a very famous part of the movie. This will be the first...and only time that we glimpse a smile on Nana's face.(Of course, that dance reminds one of her dance in Godard's film "Band of Outsiders"). The tragedy of Nana's life is that bad luck has taken away all her potential for happiness. Ultimately, "Vivre Sa Vie" proceeds towards the inevitable climax when her pimp tries to sell her off to another pimp, as simple chattel.

    Three matters stick most in my mind about the film.
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    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A GEM OF THE FRENCH NEW WAVE January 14, 2012
    By Robert
    Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
    A fan of Godard's work, I had seen excerpts and the trailer on YouTube, which finally impelled me to buy this Blu-Ray disc. I love this film on many levels.

    Primarily, I wanted to see the Paris of 1962 again, the Paris of my first visit as a child, to smell the Gitanes and Gauloises, to see the people, the cafés, the streets; the true Paris before it became an imitation of itself. I still love Paris, and am conscious of some of the less positive changes, but choose to ignore them (as much as possible). I mention this because Paris is very much a character in the film and is the page upon which the story has been written. People who knew Paris in earlier years will especially appreciate it. There is even a great shot of people standing in line for Truffaut's "Jules et Jim". Shots like that give it somewhat a documentary feel, of being there in the present; and also it is somewhat of a time capsule of life in that time and place.

    Secondly, I of course love Anna Karina who is incredibly beautiful and has such a lovely inner quality, plus her Danish accent drives French guys like me crazy (lol). But when you see the filmed interview that comes with the disc, you will see how different she is in "real life" and appreciate even more her work as an actress, even if the character of Nana was a co-creation with Godard. I wanted to see her in this film also because she was not yet really a big star, and I find there is less self-awareness in performance in the early part of a career, which is more interesting to watch.

    Thirdly, I love the way Godard explores new ways of telling a story on film. This was the type of film-making that inspired me in film school, and there are so many lessons one can learn from him.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Godard's character study is one of his strongest films (one of the...
    VIVRE SA VIE was Jean-Luc Godard's fourth feature film. The protagonist Nana (Anna Karina) is a young Parisian woman who is not especially bright, but full of life and endowed with... Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Christopher Culver
    5.0 out of 5 stars Godard's character study is one of his strongest films (one of the...
    VIVRE SA VIE was Jean-Luc Godard's fourth feature film. The protagonist Nana (Anna Karina) is a young Parisian woman who is not especially bright, but full of life and endowed with... Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Christopher Culver
    3.0 out of 5 stars Godard reflects chauvinistic tendency of French culture.
    Innovative film for its day with regards to rhythm of editing. A couple of cool shots like the stuttering pan shot in the bar/gun scene. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by David Kennedy
    4.0 out of 5 stars A Good French Film
    This was only the second French film I have ever seen and I like it very much. It was a real good stroy from front to finish.
    Published 15 months ago by kurt dietz
    5.0 out of 5 stars Vivre Sa Vie
    Whenever I'm asked what my favorite Godard film is, I always receive funny looks when I tell them Vivre Sa Vie. Read more
    Published 17 months ago by Mad Zack
    5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring though Tragic
    The tragic story of a beautiful young French woman who works in a record store near the Arch of Triumph but as in the case of many jobs in Paris-France the job pays next to nothing... Read more
    Published 20 months ago by Willard M. Payne
    5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT! BUT...
    Published 20 months ago by HAN XIAO
    5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
    This is probably one of the best movies I've seen in over 20 years. Anna Karina is absolutely gorgeous and amazing as a woman just trying to stay alive, to live her own life. Read more
    Published 23 months ago by Shayne Skinner
    5.0 out of 5 stars Jean-Luc Godard's Best Film Viewed The BEST Way Possible
    I am a huge Jean-Luc Godard fan, and, of his films, "Vivre Sa Vie" (My Life To Live) is my favorite. It's hard to imagine watching this movie any other way than on Blu-Ray. Read more
    Published on September 4, 2011 by Ryan Nijakowski
    4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: Although the term "masterpiece" is overly used, this is...
    It was 1962 and Jean-Luc Godard and wife, Anna Karina have worked on two films together "Le petit Soldat" (created in 1960 but released in 1963 due to the film being banned) and... Read more
    Published on August 17, 2010 by Dennis A. Amith (kndy)
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