Watch: Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina: A Marriage on Film

Watch: Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina: A Marriage on Film

[Extended transcript follows.]

[Jean-Luc] Godard contacted [Anna] Karina after seeing her in a Palmolive
commercial. He asked her to play a small role in ‘Breathless.’ She refused when
she found out the part required nudity. Godard cast her in the lead role of his
next film, ‘Le Petit Soldat.’ Halfway through production, the cast and crew
went out to dinner—including Karina and her boyfriend. Godard wrote her a note
and put it in her hand under the table. It said, “I Love you. Rendezvous at the
Café de la Paix at midnight.” Karina left her boyfriend and began a
relationship with Godard. They were happy. The production of Godard’s next
film, ‘A Woman is a Woman’, found the couple often arguing. Godard adjusted the
story to reflect the difficulties of their relationship in a humorous way.
Karina became pregnant over the course of filming. Godard proposed and they
were soon married. A friend and fellow filmmaker, Agnes Varda, cast the couple
in a small part of her film ‘Cleo From 5 to 7.’ Godard was usually preoccupied
with his work and would often leave Karina home alone. In the spring, she had a
miscarriage and fell ill. When her health returned, she acted in another film
while Godard attempted to set up a new project. Karina began an affair with her
co-star. In 1961, Karina decided to divorce Godard, but they made up and
started work on ‘Vivre sa vie.’ In 1963, Godard wrote and directed a film about
the end of a marriage titled ‘Contempt.’ It drew largely on his relationship
with Karina with many lines being things Karina actually said. Their divorce
was finalized at the end of 1964. Many of Godard’s subsequent films starring
Karina dealt with their relationship. In ‘Alphaville,’ Karina’s character does
not know the meaning of the word “love.” In ‘Pierrot le fou,’ Karina’s
character betrays the male lead. Their last film together, ‘Made in U.S.A.,’
has Karina shoot and kill a man meant to represent Godard himself. Despite the
bitterness on set, these films feature many close-ups of Karina, which seems to
suggest a longing. The last film in Godard’s cinematic period, titled
‘Weekend,’ depicts a harsh world littered with fiery car wrecks and rife with
anger and even cannibalism. The film ends with the words, “end of cinema.”

Tyler Knudsen, a San
Francisco Bay Area native, has been a student of film for most of his life.
Appearing several television commercials as a child, Tyler was inspired to
shift his focus from acting to directing after performing as a featured extra
in Vincent Ward’s
What Dreams May Come. He studied Film & Digital
Media with an emphasis on production at the University of California, Santa
Cruz and recently moved to New York City where he currently resides with his girlfriend.

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