Vivre sa vie

(My Life to Live)


  • Sheldon Renan was the founding director of the Pacific Film Archive, where he worked between 1967 and 1973.

  • Jean-Pierre Gorin is a French filmmaker and professor with a long association with UC San Diego.


Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, Brice Parain, André S. Labarthe,

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 Michel de Montaigne), Nana takes to the streets, becoming a prostitute and a student of human emotions. Brechtian in its use of twelve dispassionately announced tableaux—the ninth includes “perhaps the saddest ‘happy’ dance scene in cinema” (Ifan Davies)—Vivre sa vie is also intensely personal, like the act of prostitution itself. Nana’s crucible is Jean-Luc 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 Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc is a tribute to another who sacrificed control to take control. We see through the face of Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s Joan to the soul of Nana.

—Judy Bloch

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  • Jean-Luc Godard
  • Raoul Coutard
  • French
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 85 mins
  • Janus Films