Cinematic Icon Is Dead at 79

Anna Karina was key to the French New Wave
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2019 4:45 PM CST
Cinematic Icon Is Dead at 79
In this Aug. 31, 1965, file photo, French movie director Jean Luc Godard and French actress Anna Karina are shown at the International Film Festival in Venice.   (AP Photo/Mario Torrisi, File)

Anna Karina, the French New Wave actress who became an icon of the cinema in the 1960s and was the muse of Jean-Luc Godard, has died. She was 79. The French culture minister announced her death on Twitter on Sunday. French media said that the Danish-born Karina had cancer and died Saturday. "Her look was the look of the New Wave. It will remain so forever,'' Culture Minister Franck Riester tweeted. "Anna Karina radiated. She magnetized the entire world," he added, and grieved that "French cinema has lost one of its legends.'' Karina made seven films with Godard, her partner at the time, including the 1961 Une Femme Est Une Femme (A Woman is a Woman), in which she played a femme fatale. For that, she received the best actress award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Other cult Godard movies starring Karina included the 1962 Vivre Sa Vie (Live Your Life) and the 1965 Pierrot Le Fou. Karina captured film-goers with her large blue doe eyes and acting and singing talents. The French New Wave broke with traditional cinematic conventions to create a fresh approach to making movies, in keeping with the free-spirited times. Born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Denmark, she initially modeled and sang in cabarets before coming to France. She was reportedly discovered, and renamed, by Coco Chanel, then discovered by Godard. Karina also worked, among other illustrious directors, with Luchino Visconti. In a bold undertaking at the time, the actress later got behind the camera to make her own movie in 1973, Vivre Ensemble (Living Together).

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