Anna Karina (born Hanne Karin Bayer; 22 September 1940) is a Danish-French citizen, film actress, director, and screenwriter who has spent most of her working life in France. She is known as a muse of the director Jean-Luc Godard, one of the pioneers of the French New Wave. Her notable collaborations with Godard include The Little Soldier (1960), A Woman Is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), and Alphaville (1965). With A Woman Is a Woman, Karina won the Best Actress award at theBerlin Film Festival.
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Selected filmography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Karina's mother was a dress shop owner and her father was a ship's captain who 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 when she returned to live with her mother. She has described her childhood as "terribly wanting to be loved", and as a child 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 Schedes, which won a prize at Cannes. She studied dance and painting in Denmark and for a while made a living selling her paintings. In 1958, after a row with her mother, she hitch-hiked to Paris.Les Deux Magots, where Anna Karina was discovered.
Karina was 17 when she arrived in Paris—poor and unable to speak French. Living off the streets, she got a break while sitting at the cafe Les Deux Magots. She was approached by a woman from an advertisement agency who asked her to do some photos. She became a successful fashion model, meeting Pierre Cardin and Coco Chanel. Chanel helped her devise her professional name, Anna Karina.
Karina's first film appearance, although uncredited, dates from 1959, when a soap 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. The image was accompanied by Debord's voice-over: "The advertisements during intermissions are the truest reflection of an intermission from life."
Jean-Luc Godard, then a film critic for Cahiers du cinéma, first saw Karina in a series of Palmolive ads in a bathtub covered in soapsuds. He was casting his debut feature film,Breathless. He offered her a small part in the film, but she refused when he mentioned that there would be a nude scene. When Godard queried her refusal, referring to the supposed 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, who was still under 21, had to persuade her estranged mother to sign the contract for her.With Claude Brasseur, and Sami Frey in the famous dance scene inBande à Part.
Karina won the Best Actress Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961 for her interpretation of the character Angela in the film A Woman Is a Woman. She also appeared in Godard's Bande à part (1964). Her acting career was not, however, limited to Godard's films, and she went on to a successful collaboration with other well-known directors. Her role in The Nun (1966), directed by Jacques Rivette, is considered by some as her best performance. She also acted in Luchino Visconti's The Stranger.
Other notable films include: George Cukor's Justine (1969), Tony Richardson's Laughter in the Dark (1969), Christian de Chalonge's L'Alliance (1970), Andre Delvaux'sRendezvous a Bray (1971), The Salzburg Connection (1972), Franco Brusati's Bread and Chocolate (1973) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette (1976). In 1972, she set up a production company named Raska for her film-directing debut Vivre Ensemble, in which she also acted and which was released in 1973. She wrote and acted inLast Song in 1987. She has since appeared in Haut, Bas, Fragile (1995) by Jacques Rivette and sang in The Truth About Charlie.
Karina has also maintained an important 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 taken 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. She subsequently recorded an album, Une histoire d'amour, withPhilippe Katerine, which was followed up by a concert tour. Karina has also made several appearances on television. In 2005, she released Chansons de films, a collection of songs sung in movies.
Karina wrote, directed and starred in Victoria, a musical road movie filmed in Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean in 2007. A review by Richard Kuipers in Variety praised it as "a pleasant gambol through the backwoods of Quebec...Given plenty of room to work off each other, the members of this fine ensemble keep pic on track...Big plus is the music and heartfelt songs by Philippe Katerine."
Karina has written four novels: Vivre ensemble (1973); Golden City (1983); On n'achète pas le soleil (1988); and Jusqu'au bout du hasard (1998).
Karina and Godard married on 3 March 1961, during the shooting of A Woman Is a Woman, and divorced in 1965. Their relationship is said to have been rocky for most of its course, with Anna left emotionally unstimulated by Godard's obsession with work. By 1967, they were barely on speaking terms. After Godard, she was married to scriptwriter-actor Pierre Fabre (1968–1973), actor-director Daniel Duval (1978–1981) and director Dennis Berry (1982–1994).