Lookalike: The faces of Anna Karina & Nadia Sibirskaïa

Many filmmakers and film theorists have focused on the face as one of the main draws of the film medium. The close-up of the face in particular holds an almost mythical promise of revelation, especially since Renée Falconetti and Carl Theodor Dreyer demonstrated its potential in La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc. Two other directors who similarly mined the faces of their leading ladies were Dimitri Kirsanoff and Jean-Luc Godard. Interestingly, their leading ladies often were their spouses: Nadia Sibirskaïa and Anna Karina respectively.


This stylish video essay by Joji Baratelli stresses the fact that the faces of those two actresses also bear a striking resemblance. But Baratelli’s side-by-side video goes beyond that serendipitous similarity. An analysis of two analogous scenes from Ménilmontant (1926) and Vivre sa vie (1962) reveals thematic echoes and similar mise-en-scène tactics. (In another random bit of coincidence, even these two films’ release years are each other’s mirror image). Baratelli’s nicely paced and elegantly produced video is a good example of the different ways in which the side-by-side format can be used: from comparative performance studies to analyses of staging.