Nationality: Danish. Born: Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Copenhagen, 22 September 1940. Education: Studied painting in Copenhagen. Family: Married 1) the director Jean-Luc Godard, 1961 (divorced 1967); 2) Pierre-Antoine Fabre, 1968 (divorced); 3) Daniel-Georges Duval, 1978. Career: Worked in France as photographer's model; 1959—actress in short film Pigen og skoene; 1960—first of a series of films directed by Godard, Le Petit soldat; 1965—TV debut; 1972—set up production company Raska for her film Vivre ensemble, of which she also wrote a novelization. Awards: Best Actress, Berlin Film Festival, for Une Femme est une femme, 1961. Agent: 78 Boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris, France.
Films as Actress:
Pigen og skoene (The Girl and the Shoes) (Schmedes—short)
Le Petit soldat (The Little Soldier) (Godard—banned until 1963) (as Veronica Dreyer)
Ce soir ou jamais (Deville); Présentation ou Charlotte et son steak (Rohmer—short) (shot in 1953 with dubbed voice); Une Femme est une femme (A Woman Is a Woman) (Godard) (as Angela); Maid for Murder (She'll Have to Go) (Asher) (as Toni); Le Soleil dans l'oeil (Bourdon); Les Fiancés du Pont Macdonald (Varda—short burlesque film from Cléo de cinq à sept shown in advance of the feature)
Cléo de cinq à sept (Cleo from 5 to 7) (Varda); Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live; It's My Life) (Godard) (as Nana Kleinfrankenheim); Shéhérazade (La Schiava di Bagdad) (Gaspard-Huit) (title role); Le Joli Mai (Marker); "Le Corbeau et renard" ("The Fox and the Crow") ep. of Les Quatre Vérités (Three Fables of Love) (Bromberger)
Dragées au poivre (Sweet and Sour) (Baratier) (as Giselle); Un Mari à prix fixe (de Givray)
Petit jour (Pierre—short); Band à part (Band of Outsiders; The Outsiders) (Godard) (as Odile); Le Voleur du Tibidabo (La vida es magnifica) (Ronet); De l'amour (Aurel) (as Hélène)
La Ronde (Circle of Love) (Vadim) (as the chambermaid); Le Soldatess (Zurlini); Alphaville (Une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution; Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution; Tarzan versus I.B.M.) (Godard) (as Natasha vonBraun); Pierrot le fou (Peter the Crazy) (Godard) (as Marianne Renoir); La Religieuse (The Nun) (Rivette) (as Suzanne Simonin); Anna (Koralnik—for TV)
Zärliche Haie (Tendres requins) (Deville); Made in U.S.A. (Godard) (as Paula Nelson)
Lo straniero (The Stranger; L'Etranger) (Visconti) (as Maria Cardona); "Anticipation" ep. of Le Plus Vieux Métier du monde (The Oldest Profession) (Godard) (as Natasha, Miss Conversation); Lamiel (Aurel)
The Magus (The God Game) (Guy Green) (as Anne)
Michael Kohlhaas—Der Rebell (Schlöndorff) (as Elisabeth); Laughter in the Dark (Richardson); Justine (Cukor) (as Melissa); Le temps de mourir (Farwagi); Before Winter Comes (J. Lee Thompson) (as Maria Holz)
L'alliance (de Chalonge); Cran d' Arret (Boisset)
Rendez-vous à Bray (Delvaux); Carlos (Geissendörfer)
The Salzburg Connection (Katzin) (as Anna Bryant)
Pane e cioccolata (Bread and Chocolate) (Brusati) (as Elena)
L'invenzione di Morel (Greco)
L'Assassin musicien (Jacquot); Les Oeufs brouillés (Santoni)
Chinesisches Roulette (Chinese Roulette) (Fassbinder) (as Irene); Also es war so . . . (Willi eine Zauberposse) (Thome)
Chaussette surprise (Surprise Sock) (Davy) (as Nathalie)
Just Like at Home (Mészáros) (as Anna); Historien om en moder (The Story of a Mother) (Weeke)
Ausgerechnet Bananen (Lommel); Also es war so (Thome—for TV)
L'Ami de Vincent (A Friend of Vincent) (Granier-Deferre)
Ave Maria (Richard) (as Berthe Granjeux)
Dame des Dunes (Joyce Buñuel—for TV); Dernière chanson (Last Song) (Berry) (+ co-sc); Anna (Koralnik)
Dernier été à Tanger (Last Summer at Tangiers) (Arcady) (as Myrrha); Cayenne-Palace (Maline) (as Lola)
L'Oeuvre au noir (The Abyss) (Delvaux) (as Catherine)
Manden, der ville vaere Skyldig (The Man Who Wanted to Be Guilty) (Roos) (as Edith)
Treasure Island (as Mother)
Haut bas fragile (Up, Down, Fragile) (Rivette) (as Sarah)
Film as Actress and Director:
Vivre Ensemble (Living Together)
By KARINA: books—
Vivre ensemble, Paris 1973.
Golden City, Paris, 1983.
On n'achete pas le soleil, Paris, 1988.
By KARINA: articles—
"Anna Karina: Vivre ensemble," interview with L. Vigo, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), September/October 1973.
"Elle est actrice, elle est femme, et pourtant . . . elle tourne; elle s'appelle Anna Karina," interview with G. Charest and A. Leroux, in Cinéma Québec (Montreal), November/December 1973.
Interview with A. Warhol, in Interview (New York), March 1974.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 28 December 1978 and 1 December 1983.
On KARINA: book—
Godard, Jean-Luc, Godard par Godard: Les années Karina (1960 à 1967), Paris, 1985.
On KARINA: articles—
Ecran (Paris), December 1978; additions in issue for September 1979.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 24 November 1983.
Jousse, T., "Entretien avec Anna Karina," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1990.
Stars (Mariembourg), Summer 1995.
* * *
Anna Karina is best known for her work with her director/husband Jean-Luc Godard. Their relationship was a classic example of the male auteur constructing his personal film universe, as well as constructing his wife's persona to fit or perform within that universe. Godard's work with Karina is the best of his repertoire, and Karina's work with most other directors is merely ordinary.
Originally from Denmark, Karina arrived in Paris in 1958 with limited facility in the French language, and having only modeling experience and one short film in her country to her credit. She turned down the part in A bout de souffle played by Jean Seberg, and instead performed in 1960's Le Petit soldat, Godard's second feature, which earned her international recognition. The following year she appeared in Godard's Une Femme est une femme, the same year the two were married.
Godard was able to use Karina's occasional awkwardness as an asset by emphasizing the vulnerability that was the most distinguishing trait of her youthful performances. Despite his almost palpable adoration for her expressed in such films as Une Femme est une femme and Vivre sa vie, both of which have been described as documentaries on Karina herself, her characters were never mere victims or innocents. In Vivre sa vie, Karina's character and her lover read Edgar Allan Poe's The Oval Portrait, a foreshadowing of the ultimate dilemma Godard would face when the artist allows his cherished love to perish as he refines her portrait. As the series of collaborations progressed and, perhaps coincidentally, their marriage dissolved, Karina became definitively an active agent, an initiator of the action, even a betrayer. As an actress she had become an axiom of the Godardian cinema, a relative constant in his most highly animated period, representing herself as much as any fictional creation.
Apart from Godard's films, Karina's rather melancholy fragility has rarely been employed to full advantage. Jacques Rivette's densely developed portrait of La Religieuse and, much later, Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette emerge as the plainest exceptions. Her foray into the English-speaking cinema was, for the most part, disastrous, and her roles in such universally unpopular, expensive fiascos as The Magus and Justine were inconsequential at best. Although international stardom may have been unattainable, and while the French cinema is no longer the vanguard institution it was at the time, Anna Karina was clearly a contributing member of a group that set about actively to rethink the aims and the means of filmmaking.
—Richard Wilson, updated by Kelly Otter