French New Wave Starlet and International Cinema Star, 1940-2019.
Jim Tudor: She was the beguiling beauty of the French New Wave, as heartbreakingly sympathetic as she was mysterious. Her radiant every-girl appearance quickly gave way to a face no camera could resist. Whatever “it” was in that precarious, malleable cinematic moment of the early 1960s in France, Anna Karina had it.
Paul Hibbard: Anna Karina was more than an icon of the French New Wave; she was the face of it. Without her, the movement may have never been as big as it was. She was Jean Luc Godard’s muse, back before the word ‘muse’ took on a sleazy connotation, and back when it had power. She lifted him up.
Jim: Though her work with her then-husband, Jean-Luc Godard, is the body of work for which shed come to be remembered, her career spanned well beyond him. Born Hanne-Karine Blarke Bayer, the young girl dubbed herself “Anna Karina” at the start of a successful modeling career. Film work, followed by theater, quickly followed… as did her tumultuous marriage to Godard (spanning from 1961 to 1964).
Paul: Karina was classy but with an edge. Beautiful but with some grit. Precious, but also dangerous. She is most known for her work with Godard, in A Woman is a Woman, Alphaville, and A Band of Outsiders. She was also in Godard’s massively underrated Pierrot Le Fou. She not only worked with Godard, but other French directors, including the lead in Jacques Rivette, in the 1966 movie The Nun– a role many consider to be her finest performance.
Jim: In a film year so dominated by undeniable works of male creatives, perhaps it’s only fitting that Karina’s passing redirects our collective gaze to an appreciation of her wholly feminine persona… and how it was sculpted by celebrated men who too often did what they could to keep her under their thumbs.
Paul: There is a time when most film lovers discover the French New Wave, either through film school or on their own, and I truly believe that when they come upon that movement, no matter who they are, they all fall in love with Anna Karina.
Jim: Will there or there been a more deeply resonant actor death this year? Karina is a rarified persona, one of very few distinct faces of a primary, integral filmic art movement of the 20th century. Which is to say, all of cinema. She was the outsider who danced her way into the hardened hearts of world cinephiles- and will continue to do just that.