Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Muses: Anna Karina

Anna Karina on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

This week's muse - actress, fashion icon, writer, and director, Anna Karina - is understandably a blogger favorite but it just didn't feel right to leave her out.  She is the quintessential muse, widely known because of her work with infamous new wave director (and one-time husband), Jean-Luc Godard.  Though her face pops up on many a tumblr and blog feed, I’m not certain that many people know about her back story or of her off-camera relationship with Godard.  I figured I’d shed a small shred of light on that (or at least what I know about that) while I am at it!

Originally from Denmark, Anna (born: Hanne Karin Bayer) grew up under rather turbulent circumstances; bouncing between her mother, maternal grandparents and foster homes.  By her late teens she had decided to run away to Paris but with no real plan, no money to speak of and no real grasp of the french language, it proved a bit of a challenge. As fate would have it, she would soon be discovered by a modeling agency scout at the famed Les Deux Magot café on the Left Bank and the rest, as they say, is history. She became a moderately successful commercial and fashion model - even working with Coco Chanel at one point (who allegedly encouraged Anna to change her name if she wanted to become "a star" - and Coco would know!).  

Anna Karina on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

                                                   (Elle Magazine - 1959)

Enter: Jean-Luc Godard, who saw Anna in a television commercial for bath soap (the ad featured her in a tub with some strategically placed bubbles) and immediately tried to cast her in a supporting role in his upcoming film, "À Bout De Souffle" (aka: Breathless).  Here is a clip of her telling the story of their first encounter and how she turned that part down - which I love…

Not long after she would accept a (fully-clothed) role in his film, “Le Petit Soldat”, and the duo would soon dive head-first into a romantic relationship (here is another, rather saucy, story about the beginnings of their romance). They married in 1961 and continued making a series of wonderfully inspired films together including: Band of Outsiders, Une Femme est Une Femme, Vivre sa Vie, Alphaville, Pierott Le Fou...   

 Their relationship has been described as a tumultuous yet passionate affair.  It's mostly speculation but some have pointed to Jean-Luc's obsession with directing and his career as the reason for the marriage's demise.  They finally divorced in 1965 but did continue to work together for a while even after that.  Alas, by 1967 they reportedly were no longer on speaking terms.  Each moved on. 

Anna married four, count em... FOUR more times (Godard twice more) so I think she came out alright in the end.  She also went on to successfully collaborate with people like Serge Gainsbourg, Tony Richardson, and Jacques Rivette, among many others. 

Suggested viewing: "Une Femme est Une Femme","Band of Outsiders","Pierott Le Fou"...and, if you can get your hands on it, "Anna" (the musical) which includes this very important scene... ROLLER GIRL (which, very sadly, Youtube will not allow me to embed! :( 

Happy Monday, mes amis!  Au revoir! x

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