Anna Karina  

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"Anna Karina's first film appearance, although unauthorized, dates from 1959, when a soap television advertisement in which she appeared as a model was included near the end of Guy Debord's On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time (1959). The image was accompanied by Debord's voice-over "The advertisements during intermissions are the truest reflection of an intermission from life."" --Sholem Stein

"According to Godard's biographer, Colin MacCabe, Godard was in the middle of casting his debut feature film, A bout de souffle, that same year when he saw Karina in a series of Monsavon ads in a bath covered in soapsuds. He offered her an important part in the film, which she turned down because of a nude scene. When Godard questioned her about her refusal, referring to the supposed nudity in the Monsavon ads, she is said to have replied "Are you mad? I was fully clothed in those ads — the soapsuds went up to my neck. It was in your mind that I was undressed.""--Sholem Stein

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Anna Karina (born Hanne Karin Bayer, 22 September 1940 - 14 December 2019) was a Danish-French film actress, director, writer, and singer. She rose to prominence as French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard's muse in the 1960s, performing in several of his films, including The Little Soldier (1960), A Woman Is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), Band of Outsiders (1964), and Pierrot le Fou and Alphaville (both 1965). For her performance in A Woman Is a Woman, Karina won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival.

In 1972, Karina set up a production company for her directorial debut, Vivre ensemble (1973), which screened in the Critics’ Week lineup at the 26th Cannes Film Festival. She also directed the French-Canadian film Victoria (2008). In addition to her work in cinema, she worked as a singer, and wrote several novels in French.

Karina was widely considered an icon of 1960s cinema. The New York Times described her as "one of the screen's great beauties and an enduring symbol of the French New Wave."


Early life

Karina's mother was a dress shop owner and her father left the family a year after she was born. She lived with her maternal grandparents for three years, until she was four. She spent the next four years in foster care before returning to live with her mother. She has described her childhood as "terribly wanting to be loved", and as a child she made numerous attempts to run away from home.

She began her career in Denmark, where she sang in cabarets and worked as a model playing in commercials. At age 14, she appeared in a Danish short film by Ib Schmedes, which won a prize at Cannes. In 1958, after a row with her mother, she hitchhiked to Paris.



Karina was 17 when she arrived in Paris poor and unable to speak French. She lived on the streets. One day while sitting at the café Les Deux Magots she was approached by a woman from an advertisement agency who asked her to do some photos. She began to work as a model and eventually became successful, posing for several magazines, including Elle, and meeting Pierre Cardin and Coco Chanel. Karina said that Chanel helped her devise her professional name, Anna Karina.


Jean-Luc Godard, then a film critic for Cahiers du cinéma, first saw Karina in a series of Palmolive ads in which she posed in bathtubs. He was casting his debut feature film, Breathless, and offered her a small part in it, but she refused when he mentioned that there would be a nude scene. When Godard questioned her refusal, mentioning her apparent nudity in the Palmolive ads, she is said to have replied, "Are you mad? I was wearing a bathing suit in those ads—the soapsuds went up to my neck. It was in your mind that I was undressed."

In the end, the character Godard reserved for Karina did not appear in the film. The next year, however, Godard offered her a role in Le Petit Soldat (1960). Karina, then still under 21, had to persuade her estranged mother to sign the contract for her.

Karina won the Best Actress Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961 for her performance as Angela in A Woman Is a Woman. Her career continued to flourish thereafter, as she appeared in dozens of films through the 1960s, including Godard's Bande à part (1964), The Nun (1966), directed by Jacques Rivette, Luchino Visconti's The Stranger (1967), the George Cukor/Joseph Strick collaboration Justine (1969), and Tony Richardson's Laughter in the Dark (1969). She continued to work steadily into the 1970s, with roles in Christian de Chalonge's The Wedding Ring (L'Alliance, 1971), Andre Delvaux's Rendezvous at Bray (Rendez-vous à Bray, also 1971), The Salzburg Connection (1972), and Franco Brusati's Bread and Chocolate (Pane e cioccolata, 1973).

In 1972, she set up a production company, Raska, for her directorial debut, Vivre ensemble (1973), in which she also acted. The film screened in the Critics’ Week lineup at the 26th Cannes Film Festival.

In 1976, she starred in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette (1976); Fassbinder allegedly wrote the film for her and her partner at the time, Ulli Lommel. She later wrote and acted in Last Song (1987) and has since appeared in Haut, Bas, Fragile (1995), directed by Jacques Rivette, and sung in The Truth About Charlie (2002), a remake of the 1963 film Charade.

In 2008, Karina wrote, directed and starred in Victoria, a musical road movie filmed in Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Richard Kuipers praised it in Variety as "a pleasant gambol through the backwoods of Quebec."


Karina also maintained a singing career. At the end of the 1960s, she scored a major hit with "Sous le soleil exactement" and "Roller Girl" by Serge Gainsbourg. Both songs are from the TV musical comedy Anna (1967), by the film director Pierre Koralnik, in which she sings seven songs alongside Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Brialy. Karina subsequently recorded an album, Une histoire d'amour, with Philippe Katerine, which was followed by a concert tour. In 2005, she released Chansons de films, a collection of songs sung in movies.


Karina wrote four novels: Vivre ensemble (1973), Golden City (1983), On n'achète pas le soleil (1988), and Jusqu'au bout du hasard (1998).

Personal life

In 1961, after working together on Le Petit Soldat, Karina and Godard were married; The Independent described them as "one of the most celebrated pairings of the 1960s." During their marriage, they made seven feature films together.

Despite the critical success, their relationship behind the scenes was described as tumultuous; they fought on film sets, Karina fell ill several times, and Godard was often absent without explanation. The couple divorced in 1965. Karina said they no longer spoke to each other. She described the relationship in an interview with W Magazine:
It was all very exciting from the beginning. Of course we have a great love story and all that, but we were so different. He was 10 years older than me. He was very strange. He would go away and come back three weeks later ... It was difficult, and I was a young girl, not even 21—at the time Godard was 30. I know he didn't mean to hurt me, but he did. He was never there, he was never coming back, and I never knew where he was. He drove me a bit crazy.
After divorcing Godard, Karina remarried several times; she was married to French actors Pierre Fabre from 1968 to 1974 and Daniel Duval from 1978 to 1981, and to American film director Dennis Berry from 1982 to 1994.

Karina died on 14 December 2019 from cancer.


Karina is widely considered an icon of 1960s cinema as well as a style icon. The Guardian described her as an "effervescent free spirit of the French new wave." Refinery29 wrote that "her 60s French girl style – think sailor dresses, tartan, long socks, and hats – and mesmerizing doe-eyed beauty mean she continues to be referenced today by the super-stylish."

Selected filmography

Karina appeared in the following films:

Year Title Role Director
1960 Template:Sortname Veronica Dreyer Jean-Luc Godard
Template:Sortname Angela Récamier Jean-Luc Godard
Tonight or Never Valérie Michel Deville
1961 Cléo from 5 to 7 (episode "Les fiancés du pont Macdonald") The Fiancée Agnès Varda
Sun in Your Eyes Dagmar Jacques Bourdon
She'll Have to Go Toni Robert Asher
1962 My Life to Live Nana Jean-Luc Godard
Three Fables of Love (episode "Le corbeau et le renard") Colombe Hervé Bromberger
Shéhérazade Shéhérazade Pierre Gaspard-Huit
1963 Sweet and Sour Ginette Jacques Baratier
Un mari à un prix fixe Béatrice Reinhoff Claude de Givray
1964 Circle of Love Rose / The Chambermaid Roger Vadim
Band of Outsiders Odile Jean-Luc Godard
All About Loving Hélène Jean Aurel
Template:Sortname Maria Maurice Ronet
Template:Sortname Elenitza Valerio Zurlini
1965 Pierrot le fou Marianne Renoir Jean-Luc Godard
Alphaville Natascha von Braun Jean-Luc Godard
1966 Template:Sortname Suzanne Simonin Jacques Rivette
Made in U.S.A. Paula Nelson Jean-Luc Godard
Template:Sortname (episode "Anticipation") Natasha / Eleanor Romeovich, Hostess 703 Jean-Luc Godard
1967 Template:Sortname Marie Cardona Luchino Visconti
Anna Anna Pierre Koralnik
Zärtliche Haie Elena / Costa Michel Deville
Lamiel Lamiel Jean Aurel
1968 Template:Sortname Anne Guy Green
Before Winter Comes Maria J. Lee Thompson
Man on Horseback Elisabeth Kohlhaas Volker Schlöndorff
1969 Justine Melissa George Cukor and Joseph Strick
Laughter in the Dark Margot Tony Richardson
Template:Sortname The Young Girl André Farwagi
1970 The Time to Die The Unnamed Woman André Farwagi
Template:Sortname Jeanne Christian de Chalonge
1971 Rendezvous at Bray She (The Waitress) André Delvaux
Carlos Clara Hans W. Geißendörfer
1972 Template:Sortname Anna Bryant Lee H. Katzin
Vivre ensemble Julie Anderson Anna Karina
1973 Morel's Invention Faustine Emidio Greco
Bread and Chocolate Elena Franco Brusati
1975 Scrambled Eggs Clara Dutilleul Joël Santoni
1976 Template:Sortname Louise Benoît Jacquot
Chinese Roulette Irene Cartis Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1978 Surprise Sock Nathalie Jean-François Davy
Just like Home Anna Márta Mészáros
1979 Template:Sortname Christine Olsen Claus Weeke
1980 Charlotte, Tell Your Mother that I Love Her Stéphane Aly Borgini
1983 Vincent's Friend Eleonore Pierre Granier-Deferre
1984 Ave Maria Berthe Granjeux Jacques Richard
1985 Treasure Island The Mother Raoul Ruiz
1987 Last Song Susan Dennis Berry
Last Summer in Tangiers Myrrha, a cabaret singer Alexandre Arcady
Cayenne Palace Lola Alain Maline
Template:Sortname Catherine André Delvaux
1990 The Man Who Wanted to Be Guilty Edith Ole Roos
1994 Up, Down, Fragile Sarah Jacques Rivette
1996 Chloé Katia Dennis Berry
2002 Template:Sortname Karina Jonathan Demme
2003 I, Cesar Gloria Richard Berry
2008 Victoria Victoria Anna Karina

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anna Karina" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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