Friday, December 12, 2008

Vivre sa vie

Being very much interested in the nature of language, notions of which this film tackles to a large degree (among many other things), I thoroughly enjoyed this film. To speak of one scene in particular (chapter 11), Nana (Anna Karina), encounters an older gentleman, somewhat of a philosopher or philosophizer, with whom she becomes engaged in a conversation concerning language and thought and love. He tells her the story of Porthos from The Three Musketeers, in which Porthos dies due to thinking for the first time, a sort of attack of the conscience after placing a bomb in a cellar—the bomb explodes and Porthos is left holing the cellar up with his shoulders. The building eventually collapses on him. This story came about after Nana expressed that she suddenly had nothing to say, and that this often happens to her because she can’t decide whether the words that have come to her are truly expressive of what it is that she is thinking. Na├»ve and interested, Nana begins asking this man questions concerning the necessity of language and the meaninglessness that begins to pervade the overuse of it. What is interesting here is that Nana, seemingly repelled and admittedly inept concerning language and conversation, must use conversation to get at the root of her ideas about language. Another interesting thing is the idea of detachment, which ultimately results in the ability to express oneself adeptly, to be objective and unaffected by one’s own situation, which is what the film is in fact doing to a certain degree. Thus, beyond working for and within the diagesis, the scene is working on a meta-level, self-reflexively tackling the “language” of the cinema, and its potential as an utterly expressive art. Also, cinematically and in a narrative sense, this scene works metaphorically, for this seems to the moment when Nana begins for the first time to truly think, much like Porthos, and in the following and final scene, Nana is shot and killed—in a sense, prostitution was to Nana what the bomb was to Porthos.

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