Thursday, October 20, 2011


Anna Karina is the darling of the French New Wave, whose naturalism in front of the camera was only matched by an effortless beauty that inspired Jean-Luc Godard to make his most innovative work. She was born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Solbjerg, Denmark, September 22nd, 1940. Her mother owned a clothing store and her father was a ship captain who abandoned the family not one year after Karina was born. After her father's leaving, her mother became incompetent and sent the young baby to give with her maternal grandparents. After three years, at the age of 4, her grandparents placed her in foster care, where she remained until her mother was deemed fit to raise a child. Karina eventually moved back in with her mother, but was never able to develop a relationship with her. They fought constantly.

At 14 she began working in Denmark as a photographer's model, actress, and painter. She was able to make a living by selling her paintings. In 1958, at 17, after another battle with her mother, Karina left home and hitchhiked to Paris.

Karina found herself living on the streets of Paris, not knowing a soul, or a word of French. She was sitting in front of cafe Les Deux Magots when an ad agency executive approached her, asking if she would be willing to have her photograph taken. She agreed. The photograph lead to a series of ad campaigns featuring the young actress. She was eventually noticed by Coco Chanel, who helped her invent the name "Anna Karina."

Chanel was not the only one to notice the young Karina. Jean-Luc Goddard, who was working as a film critic at the time, noticed her in a Palmolive ad. He was presently casting a new feature, Breathless, and offered her a small role. To Godard's shock and amazement, she declined the role, stating that she did not feel comfortable with the proposed nudity. This role did not appear in the finished film. One year later, Godard offered Karina a role in his next film, Le Petit Soldat (1960). She accepted. Because she was still under 21, she had to locate her estranged mother and coerce her into signing the contract.

The following year, Godard and Karina collaborated again in Woman is a Woman, for which Karina won Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival. During the filming, Karina and Godard were married. Karina continued to serve as Godard's muse until they were divorced in 1965. She was married an additional three times, to screenwriter Pierre Fabre, actor/director Daniel Duval, and finally director Dennis Berry.

Though she is most famous for her collaborations with Godard, all of which helped to establish and solidify the French New Wave, she also worked with directors such as Joacques Rivette and Luchino Visconti, continuing to make films steadily until present day.

Karina also had success as a singer, working on such hits as "Roller Girl" and "Sous le soleil exactement" with Serge Gainsbourg. She later release an album that was met with favorable reviews. In addition to her singing career, Karina also wrote numerous screenplays (some of which she acted in), in addition to 4 novels.

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