Anna Karina: French New Wave cinema legend dies aged 79


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AFP

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Anna Karina rose to prominence as Jean-Luc Godard’s muse

Anna Karina, an icon of French New Wave cinema, has died at the age of 79.

The Danish-French actress died in a hospital in Paris after living with cancer, her agent told AFP news agency.

French culture minister Franck Riester tweeted in tribute: “Today, French cinema has been orphaned. It has lost one of its legends.”

Karina rose to prominence as the muse of her director ex-husband Jean-Luc Godard in the 1960s.

She got her big break as a teenager, soon after moving to Paris from her native Denmark – apparently when Godard spotted her walking down the Champs-Elysees.

He wanted to cast her in his first and most famous film Breathless, Karina recalled years later, but she turned him down because the role required nudity.

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Getty Images

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Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard got married in March 1961

After a few months he offered her another role, cementing their fruitful working relationship and her place in cinematic history.

In 1961, she and Godard got married – and just months later, Karina won best actress at the Berlin Film Festival for Godard’s A Woman is a Woman.

Although they divorced just four years later, their relationship became almost as iconic as the films they made together.

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Getty Images

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Karina on the set of Godard’s film Pierrot le Fou in July 1965

“It was really a great love story, but very tiring in a way for a young girl because he would go away a lot,” Karina told Vogue in 2016.

“He would say he was going to buy some cigarettes and he would come back three weeks later.”

After their divorce, she continued to have a long and prosperous career, working with filmmakers Jacques Rivette, Luchino Visconti and Tony Richardson.

In the early 1970s she worked behind the camera too, directing Vivre Ensemble, a film about a turbulent romance between a history teacher and a free-spirited young woman that ends in domestic violence and drug abuse.

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Media captionIn 2015, Raymond Cauchetier discussed his work photographing the glamour of French New Wave



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