I’ve been a fan of French New Wave cinema (la Nouvelle Vague) for as long as I can remember, but my favorite director of all-time would have to be Mr. Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, Alphaville), who just so happened to discover the amazing Anna Karina working as a model in Paris. Anna is originally from Denmark but bounced around foster homes as a child, eventually hitchhiking to Paris as a teen. In the late 50s, living off the streets in France, she was scouted by an agent who eventually booked her for ad campaigns under Pierre Cardin and Coco Chanel. When Karina’s image started appearing in publicités all around the European fashion capitol, Godard knew he wanted her in his films…
After turning down a part in Breathless (funnily enough, due to nude scene no-no’s) Karina finally accepted the role of Veronica Dreyer in Le Petit Soldat (The Little Solider), thus commencing her silver screen career. Karina went on to appear in numerous New Wave films and also won the award for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961. Since, she has served as a muse for numerous French directors and even had the infamous Serge Gainsbourg at her heels when the musician chose to write his sole film about her, in 1967.
Karina’s style is effortless, classic, and timeless. I admire her unique ability to portray various characters accurately and convincingly, all the while remaining true to herself and her style sense. Karina’s range is inspiring, but her style is truly authentic. To me, she is the perfect combination of class and sex, without trying too hard. The best part is that she’s still around today, struttin’ her stuff. If you aren’t familiar with Karina or with any of her films, I suggest you add any one (or all) of her titles to your Netflix queue, ASAP. You’ll be a better woman (or man) for it!