Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): The Passion of Anna K. (video essay on Jean-Luc Godard & Anna Karina)

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Passion of Anna K. (video essay on Jean-Luc Godard & Anna Karina)

Although I prefer to stick to the 3-a-week schedule, it looks like this week I'll be posting on Tuesday and Thursday as well, so stay tuned.

This is a video that has been on my mind for at least four years. Now I'm finally able to realize it for Fandor Keyframe.

Here is a sample of my written introduction for the non-narrated video:
For six breathless years, actress Anna Karina and her filmmaker husband Jean-Luc Godard forged a cinematic partnership that remains legendary. Their collaboration is charted over the course of seven feature films: Le Petit Soldat (1960), A Woman is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), Band of Outsiders (1964), Alphaville (1965), Pierrot le fou (1966) and Made in USA (1966). Split into seven montages (one for each film), "The Passion of Anna K." traces the evolution of Karina's craft as well as her purpose within Godard's work. Each montage is bookended by Karina's first and last appearances in the particular film, a guideline that yields surprising revelations. We witness her transformation from playful ingenue to hardboiled pro. Trajectories emerge with tidal rhythm rather than the logic of a straight line: from love to disillusionment, affection to respect, spontaneity to rigor, passivity to power. (To reference a straightforward explication of the couple's relationship and collaboration, see Tyler Knudsen's complementary approach in "Godard and Karina: A Marriage on Film", which I discovered after making this).
For the rest of the intro, including a description of each individual montage, visit Fandor Keyframe (but beware, the video link on that page no longer works).

Update 2017: H. Perry Horton wrote a great little piece to accompany this video for Film School Rejects called "The Muse Matters" - check it out!

uploaded to YouTube 2017:

The initial impetus for this idea came from Richard Brody's thorough Godard biography Everything is Cinema (2008) which connects the dots between Godard's tumultuous relationship with Karina and the stories he tells, events he depicts, and ways that he scripts and especially photographs Karina's characters. While that context isn't mandatory to appreciate the video (let alone the actual films) it certainly does add another interesting dimension to their dynamic, especially given the personal, confessional nature of Godard's filmmaking. Personally, I think Godard's and Karina's collaboration gets to the heart of movies - the interaction of an author's point of view with the larger world, a world that (especially when embodied by the human form of a performer) may push back with another identity, creating new complications and yielding unforeseen treasures.

Additional pictures follow the jump...

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