The brilliant French film director Jean-Luc Godard worked with some of the most iconic actresses of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Jean Seberg, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda. But none of them was as charismatic as Danish star Anna Karina, who was not only Godard's wife from 1961 to 1967 but was also his major inspiration and creative muse. Whether she was portraying a prostitute in Vivre sa vie
, falling under the sway of a despotic computer in the futuristic noir fantasy Alphaville
or gleefully stomping through the Louvre in seven minutes flat in the existential gangster farce Band of Outsiders
, Karina was always captivating, underplaying everything with a deadpan sullenness. She managed to have a light, playful touch even as her characters were plunging into heavy, philosophical discussions about socialism, industrialization, fashion and the tangled state of modern relationships. Karina was at her most beguiling in 1965's Pierrot le fou
, where she and the roguishly charming Jean-Paul Belmondo are involved in murder and end up on the run in the South of France, in what turned out to be one of the most bizarre, surreally poetic road movies ever. Even the breakup of Godard and Karina was turned into high art, in 1966's Made in U.S.A.
, where she's forced to kill her friend David to keep her revolutionary activities secret. He can't be trusted to keep quiet because he's a poet, after all, and "poetry is truth," she says as she shoots him. "Oh, Paula," laments David (an obvious surrogate for the director). "You robbed me of my youth." Of course, Karina went on to star in many other films, wrote two novels and had a second career as a cabaret singer, performing with the likes of Serge Gainsbourg. She makes a very rare local appearance at a panel discussion following a digital screening of the restored Pierrot le fou
, as part of the ongoing City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival. (1:30 p.m. screening, 3:45 p.m. panel.) LAST-MINUTE UPDATE: According to the organizers, Anna Karina will not
appear as scheduled, because her flight from Europe was canceled due to the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Fri., April 23, 1:30 p.m., 2010