Anna Karina, icon of French New Wave cinema, dies at 79

French media said the Danish-French actress Anna Karina had cancer and died on Dec 14, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AP) - Anna Karina, the French New Wave actress who became an icon of the cinema in the 1960s and was the muse of director Jean-Luc Godard, has died.

She was 79.

The French culture minister announced her death on Twitter on Sunday (Dec 15).

French media said the Danish-born Karina had cancer and died on Saturday.

"Her look was the look of the New Wave. It will remain so forever," Culture Minister Franck Riester tweeted.

Karina made seven films with Godard, her partner at the time, including 1961's Une Femme Est Une Femme, in which she played a femme fatale.

For that, she received the best actress award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Karina captured film-goers with her large blue doe eyes and acting and singing talents.

The French New Wave broke with traditional conventions to create a fresh approach to making movies, in keeping with the free-spirited times.

In a photo taken on Aug 31, 1965, French movie director Jean Luc Godard and French actress Anna Karina speak at the International Film Festival in Venice. PHOTO: AP

Godard was not the only director with whom Karina worked.

Jacques Rivette's 1966 film La Religieuse, adapted from an 18th-century French novel by Diderot, was initially banned.

The story of a young woman forced into the convent by her mother, who had given birth out of wedlock, was revived in a restored version and presented at the 2018 Cannes film festival.

Born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Denmark, she initially modelled and sang in cabarets before coming to France. She was reportedly discovered, and renamed, by fashion's Coco Chanel, then discovered by Godard.

In a bold undertaking at the time, the actress later got behind the camera to make her own movie in 1973, Vivre Ensemble.

Films that Karina appeared in will be shown again with a retrospective of Godard's work starting next month at the Cinemateque, a noted film institution in France which she frequented.

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