Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Anna Karina, Saddy Robbot, Andre S. Labarthe, G. Schlumberger
Jean-Luc Godard’s fourth film Vivre Sa Vie (1962) may ultimately—or inevitably—recall his debut film Breathless (1960) by veering off into a crime drama, but it’s generally a very different sort of work, one that illustrates the filmmaker’s efforts to expand the language of film, to shape it into something new. It’s also a film that wants the viewer to be wholly conscious of the presence of the camera, to realize that you are watching a movie. Of course, it may be said that Godard had been doing that from the beginning by shooting and editing Breathless in a style that drew attention to itself. But here—in this story of a woman’s (Godard’s then-wife Anna Karina) descent into prostitution—the ante has been upped, not only by the presence of a camera that seems to be taking in its surroundings for their own sake, but by breaking the film up into 12 tableaux or chapters, each introduced by a title. The effect is distancing, yes, but against the odds, the cumulative impact is anything but. Perhaps that was the real experiment all along.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Vivre Sa Vie at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, at Phil Mechanic Studios (109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com