excerpt from

The Faces of Joan of Arc


     Anna Karina was a Danish model who moved to France in 1958 and began making movies with Jean Luc Godard when she was about 19 years old. In the first movie they made together she played a soldier fighting for a noble cause and during the filming they fell in love. They were married in 1961 and continued making movies, and because he was a director and she was an actor he decided what parts she would play. In their next film she played a girl who sleeps with her husband's friend, and in the films after that she started playing prostitutes. Vivre Sa Vie begins with her looking for some meaning in her life. She doesn't have a clear idea of what to do with her life until she meets a bon vivant who offers her what seems to be a choice. She can continue to live a life that seems empty or she can become a prostitute and make a lot of money. Because she's part of the modern world she needs a lot of money, or feels she needs a lot of money, and so the choice seems reasonable. Actually it doesn't seem that reasonable but she learns the trick of not noticing. She develops the ability not to care, which is cynicism. Although her mind keeps returning to what she thought was her empty life she forces herself to practice her trade, and as she gets better and better, she divorces herself more and more from her actions. She creates a space between what she does and who she feels she is, so at least she can live with a little peace. She tells herself it doesn't matter what she does, that what matters is happiness, and we all want to find some happiness, and she looks for whatever scraps of happiness she can find. That's why she starts shopping. It makes her happy to have some power over merchandise.

- John Haskell