Vintage Beauties: Anna Karina

Recently I have been rekindling my fondness for Jean-Luc Godard films. During undergrad school we studied Godard in several of my classes, which is how I first learned about the director. The first movie of his I saw was Breathless and it has been true love ever since. Yesterday I watched Pierrot le fou. I have always been an Anna Karina fan—I mean, I have a thing for any quirky actress rocking bangs—but now I am truly obsessed. So, now I present, Vintage Beauties: Anna Karina.

Anna Karina was born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 22, 1940. Her parents were less than adequate. She lived with her maternal grandparents until she was four and then in foster homes until she was eight. After that she went to live with her mother and stepfather, where she felt unwanted and unloved. Her stepfather regularly physically abused her and after one instance she decided she was going to run away to Paris.

It was the summer of 1958 when Anna, who spoke little French, arrived in Paris. A local priest assisted her in securing a small room on the rue Pavee near the Champs Elysees and behind the Bastille. Shortly thereafter a lady named Catherine Harle approached Anna at the Les Deux Magots café and asked her if she would do some photos for the fashion magazine Jours de France. Harle was not impressed with her modeling during the photo shoot, but still gave her some other contacts to investigate, and soon became a top model in Paris. While shooting an advertisement for Elle, she met Coco Chanel, who is credited with changing Anna’s name from Hanna Karin Bayer to Anna Karina.

Jean-Luc Godard first laid eyes on Anna when she was featured in a soap ad for Palmolive, during which he was casting for his movie À bout de soufflé (Breathless). Interested in Anna to play the part of one of Michel Poiccard’s previous girlfriends, he sent her a telegram requesting an appointment with her. Godard told her she had the part if she wanted it, but that the part required nudity, which Anna refused to do. Godard had been under the impression that she had been nude for the Palmolive ad, to which she replied “Are you mad? I was fully clothed in those ads, and the soapsuds went up to my neck. It was in your mind I was undressed” and stormed out of the meeting.

Anna went on to become Godard’s muse and wife. Their relationship was stormy and hostile, eventually getting divorced in 1965 after making a host of movies together such as The Little Soldier (1960), A Woman is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), Pierrot le Fou (1965), and Alphaville (1965). Anna continued to take on roles with other directors, although she is best known for being Godard’s French New Wave film star.

I don’t want to go too in depth with Anna’s biography, but I found a really detailed page at NewWaveFilm.com if you are interested in more Anna deets, especially concerning Anna and Godard’s relationship.

A few more favorite photos, of course…

Of course, while watching Pierrot le Fou, I had to emulate Anna’s classic look of heavy bangs and winged black eyeliner:

Oh, web cam photos.

In any case, I am pretty sure that Anna is the original Zooey Deschanel. I dare you to challenge me on that one.

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