Anna Karina, Icon of French New Wave, Dies at Age 79 - Digital Web PRO

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Anna Karina, Icon of French New Wave, Dies at Age 79

Anna Karina, Icon of French New Wave, Dies at Age 79

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Anna Karina, arguably the first face that pops into one's mind at the mention of the phrase “French New Wave,” has died in Paris at the age of 79. The actress, singer and novelist born Hanne Karin Bayer in the suburban town of Solbjerg in Denmark worked with many powerhouse directors like Jacques Rivette, Tony Richardson, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Luchino Visconti, but is best known for her collaboration in cinema and in life with her ex-husband Jean-Luc Godard.

She began singing in clubs and modeling on television in Denmark at 14, then hitchhiked to Paris at the age of 17 after getting in an argument with her mother. She was discovered by a casting agent while sitting in a cafe. Godard, then a film critic preparing his debut, 1960's Breathless, saw her in a soap commercial, and approached her with a role. She turned it down, refusing to appear nude on screen, but starred in his follow-up, The Little Soldier. That film (a bit of an anomaly for early Godard in its seriousness) was held from release for three years due to controversy surrounding scenes of torture in the Algerian war. By the time it came out in 1963, Karina and Godard had already shot and released A Woman is a Woman and My Life to Live and gotten married. Their collaboration continued through to their divorce with Band of Outsiders, Pierrot le Fou, Alphaville and Made in USA.

“No film has ever been more loving in its treatment of a star,” New York Times critic Renata Adler wrote about Pierrot le Fou, a glamorous crime spree road movie bursting with color, fourth-wall breaks and musical numbers that was essentially improvised during production that still manages to be a masterpiece.

In the late 1960s she had success as a recording artist after appearing in a television film, Anna, which had songs written by Serge Gainsbourg.

She wrote, directed and starred her first film, Living Together in 1973, and did the same in 2008 with Victoria, a road movie set in Quebec. She wrote four novels, the first concurrent with Living Together, then another in 1983, 1988 and 1998. In 2002 she appeared in Jonathan Demme's The Trouble With Charlie, a rare engagement with a Hollywood film.

From a style point of view, her hair, her makeup, her clothing, virtually any photo of her from any period never looked out of fashion, nor likely will it ever. One eventually realizes that it isn't just the outfitting, it is her.

Cinephiles took to Twitter with screencaps and thoughts at the news of her passing.

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