Vivre Sa Vie (1962)

Brief Intro

“Vivre Sa Vie,” directed by Jean-Luc Godard in 1962, is a profound exploration of existential themes and the human condition. The film follows Nana, a young Parisian woman, as she navigates the complexities of life, love, and identity, ultimately delving into prostitution. Godard’s innovative narrative structure and stylistic choices make this film a seminal work in the French New Wave cinema movement.

Literary Devices Used in Vivre Sa Vie

  1. Monologue
    • Movie Scene: Nana’s introspective monologue in the café.
    • Device Example: Nana reflects on her life choices and the nature of existence.
  2. Symbolism
    • Movie Scene: The recurring motif of mirrors.
    • Device Example: Mirrors symbolize self-reflection and the duality of Nana’s character.
  3. Foreshadowing
    • Movie Scene: Early conversations hinting at Nana’s eventual fate.
    • Device Example: Dialogue subtly suggests Nana’s descent into a tragic end.
  4. Irony
    • Movie Scene: Nana’s idealistic view of freedom versus her reality.
    • Device Example: Her pursuit of freedom ironically leads her to a more constrained life.
  5. Juxtaposition
    • Movie Scene: Contrasting scenes of Nana’s carefree dancing and her solemn moments of introspection.
    • Device Example: Highlights the contrast between appearance and reality.
  6. Metaphor
    • Movie Scene: The use of music as a metaphor for Nana’s emotional state.
    • Device Example: Melancholic tunes underscore her moments of despair.
  7. Intertextuality
    • Movie Scene: References to literature and cinema within the dialogue.
    • Device Example: Discussions about “The Passion of Joan of Arc” mirror Nana’s struggles.
  8. Allegory
    • Movie Scene: Nana’s interactions with different men as an allegory for societal exploitation.
    • Device Example: Each relationship represents different facets of societal control.
  9. Stream of Consciousness
    • Movie Scene: Nana’s wandering thoughts while walking through Paris.
    • Device Example: Provides insight into her fragmented psyche.
  10. Imagery
    • Movie Scene: Vivid descriptions of Parisian streets and settings.
    • Device Example: Creates a palpable sense of place and atmosphere.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


  1. Monologue
    • Explanation: Nana’s internal monologues reveal her deep-seated fears and desires, allowing the audience to connect with her internal conflicts.
  2. Symbolism
    • Explanation: Mirrors frequently reflect Nana’s duality, representing her struggle between her public persona and private turmoil.


  1. Irony
    • Explanation: Raoul’s charming demeanor hides his exploitative nature, emphasizing the ironic contrast between appearance and reality.
  2. Juxtaposition
    • Explanation: His interactions with Nana juxtapose his manipulative tendencies with her vulnerability, highlighting the power dynamics in their relationship.


  1. Metaphor
    • Explanation: Paul’s character serves as a metaphor for fleeting, unattainable dreams, as he represents Nana’s initial hopes for a better life.
  2. Intertextuality
    • Explanation: Conversations with Paul often reference literature, symbolizing the clash between romantic ideals and harsh reality.

Character Dynamics

  • Nana and Raoul: Their relationship is a poignant depiction of control and dependency. Raoul’s manipulative tactics are contrasted with Nana’s search for autonomy, showcasing the tragic dynamics of power and submission.
  • Nana and Paul: Paul represents a fleeting hope and idealism for Nana, but their interactions underscore the disillusionment she faces as reality dismantles her dreams.

Thematic Analysis

  1. Existentialism
    • Device: Monologue
    • Explanation: Nana’s soliloquies delve into existential questions about freedom, purpose, and identity.
  2. Freedom and Confinement
    • Device: Symbolism
    • Explanation: The motif of doors and thresholds symbolizes the tension between freedom and confinement in Nana’s life.
  3. The Role of Women
    • Device: Allegory
    • Explanation: Nana’s experiences allegorically critique the societal roles and expectations imposed on women.
  4. Despair and Hope
    • Device: Imagery
    • Explanation: The visual contrast between light and dark settings reflects Nana’s oscillation between despair and hope.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
MonologueClose-up shotsIntensify the emotional impact of Nana’s introspection.
SymbolismMirror reflectionsVisually represent Nana’s internal conflicts.
ForeshadowingSubtle sound cuesHint at future events through musical undertones.
IronyContrasting lightingEmphasize the disparity between Nana’s dreams and reality.
JuxtapositionCross-cuttingHighlight the differences between Nana’s ideal and real life.
MetaphorMusic choiceUse of melancholic music to underscore emotional themes.
IntertextualityFilm within a filmReferences to other works create deeper narrative layers.
AllegoryCharacter interactionsDifferent characters symbolize societal forces.
Stream of ConsciousnessHandheld cameraMimic the fluidity of Nana’s thoughts.
ImageryDetailed set designEnhance the atmospheric depth of Parisian life.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection:

  1. Nana’s Monologue in the Café
    • YouTube Link: Nana’s Monologue
    • Breakdown: This scene features a close-up of Nana, with minimal background noise, allowing her introspective thoughts to resonate powerfully. The monologue reveals her existential anxieties and desire for freedom, setting the tone for her subsequent decisions.
  2. The Mirror Scene
    • YouTube Link: The Mirror Scene
    • Breakdown: Nana’s reflection in the mirror symbolizes her internal conflict and duality. The use of reflective surfaces throughout the film emphasizes her search for identity and self-understanding.
  3. Final Scene
    • YouTube Link: Final Scene
    • Breakdown: The culmination of Nana’s journey is depicted with stark imagery and poignant sound design. The scene’s lighting and framing create a sense of inevitability and tragedy, underscoring the film’s existential themes.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz:

  1. What literary device is prominently featured in Nana’s café monologue?
  2. What does the recurring motif of mirrors symbolize in the film?
    • A) Freedom
    • B) Duality
    • C) Despair
    • D) Hope
  3. How does the final scene enhance the film’s existential themes?
    • A) Through upbeat music
    • B) With stark imagery and sound design
    • C) By showing Nana’s ultimate triumph
    • D) With vibrant colors