Mythical couple of the new wave, Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard lived an incandescent love in life as on the screen.

anna karina and godard
Godad and Anna Karina Copyright Paris-match

10,00 francs in her pocket in Paris

They form one of the most legendary couples in French cinema. Anna Karina, whose real name is Hanne Karin Bayer, comes straight from Denmark. On the run from a mother with whom the conflict is permanent and an absent father, here she is in Paris, in 1957, at only 17 years old. With 10,000 francs in her pocket and without speaking a single word of French, she wants to get into modeling. Luckily, a talent scout spotted her on the terrace of Les Deux Magots. This is how she shoots advertisements, does the cover of ELLE and makes fashion shows, especially for Coco Chanel, who recommends that she find a pseudonym by offering her the Tolstoic-sounding name “Anna Karina”.

Her meeting whith Godard

First steps Quickly, she was spotted by Jean-Luc Godard. At the time, he was a journalist for Les Cahiers du Cinéma and was about to launch his career on the big screen with his first film “A bout de souffle“. The filmmaker is captivated by the young woman when he notices her in a Palmolive commercial, lying in a bathtub and covered in foam. He thus offers him a minor role in his film, which also welcomes Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Anna Karina refuses, repelled by the presence of a bare scene. The birth of Anna Karina in front of the camera, however, takes place a few months later, in Le Petit Soldat.

A stormy relation

On the set of Le petit Soldat, an idyll is born between Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard. The couple married in 1961. For ten years, Anna Karina did not stop touring and established herself as Godard’s muse. She worked with Jacques Rivette (The Nun, 1966) but neither Chabrol nor Truffaut, the other directors of the New Wave, made her turn. But their relationship is stormy. If the wounds they have inflicted on each other over time partly explain their separation, a more painful and intimate event was nevertheless at the origin. Anna Karina will open up decades later to Liberation: “The first time, Jean-Luc proposed to me because I was pregnant. And maybe also because he loved me.” The couple will never recover from the loss of the child, which occurred after seven months of pregnancy. A miscarriage that almost cost the life of the actress, and unfortunately left her sterile.

They revolutionized the codes

The incandescence of the love which then united Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina is inseparable from an artistic production which, even today, is considered one of the most remarkable in the history of French cinema. Une femme est une femme, Vivre sa vie, Bande à part, Pierrot le fou… In six years and seven films, the lovers will revolutionize the codes, becoming inseparable icons of the New Wave.

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