Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today’s spotlight is a video essay on Emile Zola’s Nana and two women who portrayed the character.
Every decade has its Nana. There are numerous film adaptations of Emile Zola’s novel, a cautionary tale of a beautiful, deviant woman who meets a sticky end. The character even appears, more ordinary but just as desirous, as Nana Kleinfrankenheim (played by Anna Karina) in Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie.
Her presence on-screen is such that (in French-speaking countries) “a nana” is synonymous with a babe, a doll, a young woman, a girlfriend. And yet, of all the takes on this role, the performances by Anna Karina in Vivre Sa Vie and Anna Sten in the 1934 version of Nana stand out, leaving two very different impressions on the history of cinema.
The following video essay is narrated in the first person by its creator, Mark Rappaport, and the imagined voice of Anna Sten herself. As the video opens, Rappaport recognizes Sten while watching Soldier of Fortune and falls down a rabbit hole. And, really, we’ve all been there. You’re innocently watching a movie, and suddenly there are twenty tabs open and half of them are IMDb trivia pages.
The video replicates the collapsing sinkhole of casual research: how faces begin to blur together, and connections materialize. The video is part retrospective on Sten’s career, part meditation on the differently doomed iterations of Nana. Ultimately, this is an essay that takes the rhetorical scenic route. And it’s worth it.
You can watch “Anna/Nana/Nana/Anna” here:
Who made this?
This video essay, by Mark Rappaport, is a selection for “The Video Essay” section at FILMADRID, in collaboration with MUBI. The section is non-competitive and “offers a platform and visibility the video essay deserves.” The nine selected were exhibited on MUBI’s cinema publication, Notebook. You can follow MUBI’s YouTube account here.
More Videos Like This
- In the early 1960s, Anna Karina was the muse for one of the French New Wave’s most iconic directors, Jean-Luc Godard. Here’s a video essay from Fandor on how she made her mark on a movement
- Here’s the first part of Turner Classic Movie’s tribute to Anna Sten
- Anna Karina being iconic in the Criterion closet, picking her own movies
- Here’s the British Film Institute with “Anna Karina’s guide to being mesmerizing“
- Anna Karina on how she met Jean-Luc Godard
- Here’s Alistair Whyte interviewing Anna Karina in 1973 where she discusses her career and Vivre ensemble, a film she produced, wrote, and starred in