Anna Karina

For the novel, see Anna Karenina. For the 1972 song, see Jackie (Jackie DeShannon album).
Anna Karina

Anna Karina in Amsterdam, 1968
Born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer
(1940-09-22) 22 September 1940
Solbjerg, Denmark[1]
Occupation actress, director, screenwriter
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Jean-Luc Godard (m. 1961; div. 1965)
Pierre Fabre (m. 1968; div. 1974)
Daniel Duval (m. 1978; div. 1981)
Dennis Berry (m. 1982)

Anna Karina (born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer or Beyer,[2] sources differ; 22 September 1940) is a Danish-French film actress, director and screenwriter who has spent most of her working life in France.[3] She is known as a muse of the director Jean-Luc Godard,[4] 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 the Berlin Film Festival.[3][5][6]

Early life

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.[7]

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 Schmedes, which won a prize at Cannes.[8] 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 hitchhiked to Paris.[8]


Modeling and meeting with Godard

Les Deux Magots, where Anna Karina was discovered

Karina was 17 when she arrived in Paris—poor and unable to speak French. Living on 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.[9] Chanel helped her devise her professional name, Anna Karina.[10]

Karina performed, uncredited, in a 1959 soap advertisement that was included near the end of Guy Debord's On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time (fr). 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 questioned her refusal, mentioning 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."[11]

In the end, the character Godard reserved for Karina did not appear in the film.[12] 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.[13]


With Claude Brasseur, and Sami Frey in the famous dance scene in Bande à Part.

Karina won the Best Actress Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961 for her performance as Angela in A Woman Is a Woman.[5] She also appeared in Godard's Bande à part (1964). But her acting career was not limited to Godard's films. Her role in The Nun (1966), directed by Jacques Rivette, is considered by some to be her best performance. She also acted in Luchino Visconti's The Stranger.

Karina's 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's Rendezvous a Bray (1971), The Salzburg Connection (1972), Franco Brusati's Bread and Chocolate (1973) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette (1976). Fassbinder wrote the film for her and her partner at the time, Ulli Lommel.[14] In 1972, she set up a production company, Raska, for her directorial debut, Vivre Ensemble, in which she also acted and which was released in 1973. She wrote and acted in Last Song in 1987. She has since appeared in Haut, Bas, Fragile (1995) by Jacques Rivette and sung in The Truth About Charlie.


Karina has appeared on stage in Rivette's adaptation of La Religieuse, Pour Lucrece, Toi et Tes Nuages, Françoise Sagan's Il Fait Beau Jour et Nuit and Ingmar Bergman's Efter repetitionen.

Singing career

Karina has also maintained a 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 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, with Philippe Katerine, which was followed 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.

In 2007 Karina wrote, directed and starred in Victoria, a musical road movie filmed in Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Richard Kuipers's review 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."[15]


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).[16]

Personal life

Karina became pregnant during the shooting of A Woman Is a Woman and, at Godard's insistence, they married on 3 March 1961. Later that year, Karina suffered a miscarriage. Fragile and distraught, she made the first of several unsuccessful suicide attempts. The Karina-Godard relationship is said to have been rocky for most of its course, with Karina feeling emotionally abandoned by Godard's obsession with work. They divorced in 1965 but continued their working relationship, including Alphaville, Pierrot le fou, and Made in USA. By 1967, during their last collaboration (a segment for the film Le plus vieux métier du monde), they were barely on speaking terms. After Godard, she was married to scriptwriter-actor Pierre Fabre from 1968 to 1973 and to actor-director Daniel Duval from 1978 to 1981; since 1982 she has been married to director Dennis Berry.

In popular culture

The Seattle-based hip-hop group Blue Scholars released a song titled "Anna Karina" on their Cinemetropolis album in 2011.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director
1960 Little Soldier, TheThe Little Soldier Veronica Dreyer Jean-Luc Godard
Woman Is a Woman, AA Woman Is a Woman Angela Récamier Jean-Luc Godard
Tonight or Never Valérie Michel Deville
1961 Cléo from 5 to 7 (episode "Les fiancés du pont Macdonald") The Fiancée Agnès Varda
Sun in Your Eyes Dagmar Jacques Bourdon
She'll Have to Go Toni Robert Asher
1962 My Life to Live Nana Jean-Luc Godard
Three Fables of Love (episode "Le corbeau et le renard") Colombe Hervé Bromberger
Shéhérazade Shéhérazade Pierre Gaspard-Huit
1963 Sweet and Sour Ginette Jacques Baratier
Un mari à un prix fixe Béatrice Reinhoff Claude de Givray
1964 Circle of Love Rose / The Chambermaid Roger Vadim
Band of Outsiders Odile Jean-Luc Godard
All About Loving Hélène Jean Aurel
Thief of Tibidabo, TheThe Thief of Tibidabo Maria Maurice Ronet
Camp Followers, TheThe Camp Followers Elenitza Valerio Zurlini
1965 Pierrot le fou Marianne Renoir Jean-Luc Godard
Alphaville Natascha von Braun Jean-Luc Godard
1966 Nun, TheThe Nun Suzanne Simonin Jacques Rivette
Made in U.S.A. Paula Nelson Jean-Luc Godard
Oldest Profession, TheThe Oldest Profession (episode "Anticipation") Natasha / Eleanor Romeovich, Hostess 703 Jean-Luc Godard
1967 Stranger, TheThe Stranger Marie Cardona Luchino Visconti
Anna Anna Pierre Koralnik
Zärtliche Haie Elena / Costa Michel Deville
Lamiel Lamiel Jean Aurel
1968 Magus, TheThe Magus Anne Guy Green
Before Winter Comes Maria J. Lee Thompson
Man on Horseback Elisabeth Kohlhaas Volker Schlöndorff
1969 Justine Melissa George Cukor and Joseph Strick
Laughter in the Dark Margot Tony Richardson
Time to Die, TheThe Time to Die The Young Girl André Farwagi
1970 Wedding Ring, TheThe Wedding Ring Jeanne Christian de Chalonge
1971 Rendezvous at Bray She (The Waitress) André Delvaux
Carlos Clara Hans W. Geißendörfer
1972 Salzburg Connection, TheThe Salzburg Connection Anna Bryant Lee H. Katzin
Vivre ensemble Julie Anderson Anna Karina
1973 Morel's Invention Faustine Emidio Greco
Bread and Chocolate Elena Franco Brusati
1975 Scrambled Eggs Clara Dutilleul Joël Santoni
1976 Musician Killer, TheThe Musician Killer Louise Benoît Jacquot
Chinese Roulette Irene Cartis Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1978 Surprise Sock Nathalie Jean-François Davy
Just like Home Anna Márta Mészáros
1979 Story of a Mother, TheThe Story of a Mother Christine Olsen Claus Weeke
1984 Ave Maria Berthe Granjeux Jacques Richard
1985 Treasure Island The Mother Raoul Ruiz
1987 Abyss, TheThe Abyss Catherine André Delvaux
1994 Up, Down, Fragile Sarah Jacques Rivette
1996 Chloé Katia Dennis Berry
2002 Truth About Charlie, TheThe Truth About Charlie Karina Jonathan Demme
2008 Victoria Victoria Anna Karina


  1. "Extrait de mariage n° 4/1968". Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  2. Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 94.
  3. 1 2 Anna Karenina Variety
  4. Cowie, Peter (2005) Revolution!: The Explosion of World Cinema in the Sixties Macmillan, p. 62 ISBN 0-571-21135-6
  5. 1 2 "Berlinale 1961: Prize Winners". Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  6. Anna Karina." Encyclopædia Britannica. retrieved on 25 June 2009
  7. Colin MacCabe, Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003). p. 125.
  8. 1 2 MacCabe, 126.
  9. MacCabe, 126–7.
  10. MacCabe, 127.
  11. Karina, Anna (2003). DVD extra. Band of Outsiders. DVD. "Anna Karina".
  12. MacCabe, 124–5.
  13. MacCabe, 127–8.
  15. Kuipers, Richard (12 November 2008). "Review: 'Victoria'". Variety. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  16. "Anna Karina biography" retrieved Feb 2010

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