Our early twenties is such a defining period for our cultural tastes. Books, films, music… The art I discovered and fell in love with during those years has generally stuck. When I saw my first Godard film it wasn’t like anything I’d seen before, I didn’t quite understand it, I kept asking what was happening (ok, so I still do that today with The Bourne Trilogy), but despite that I wanted more of his world. And I wanted more Anna Karina.

Adorable Anna. Mesmerising on screen whether playing the girl, the vixen or the clown, with that understated sexiness which could be dialled up on cue with skill and a knowing wink to camera. Performances were always filled with heart and style. And WHAT style. Be-fringed brunette hair, cat-eye flicks, jumpers and flats… As much as I may flirt with other looks and pull in different influences, it’s hers which always underpins everything like the foundations of a house, meaning I never stray too far from it.

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Last Saturday as a birthday gift (thank you, dear friends!!!) I was lucky enough to attend two out of the three films being shown as part of the BFI’s current Godard season to which Anna Karina herself was invited as special guest for a Q&A after each screening of Band À Part, Le Mepris and Vivre Sa Vie. Viewing Band À Part on the big screen for the first time, I was engaged, but mostly all I could think about was FIN when she would be there IN REAL LIFE. This delightful lady, whose face I’d watched emote on screen and stared at in a million Google Image searches, walked out donning her now signature fedora and I unexpectedly welled up with delirious happy. As she sat speaking I found myself mentally mapping the features of the giant Odile I’d just seen to this older woman on stage, when suddenly she’d crack a huge smile – it was her alright, right there in front of me. Bloody mental.

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Those films (“not eight, seven and a half”) defined her career. Godard’s love for her showed through them, making us love her too. I imagine it must be a difficult thing to carry having been someone’s muse, to constantly find yourself harking back to a particular era in your own continuing life, but in fielding the questions in the Q&A she was respectful of Godard’s legacy as a filmmaker and collaborator (recounting the the stress of not being given her lines until very late, but also tales of the fun they had), and self-deprecating of her own work and impact – one she couldn’t have predicted at the time. Her patience and energy were admirable, she must have answered those questions so many times before, but you wouldn’t have known it. And off she went, with a kiss for us all and the very briefest of jigs giving nod to the famous Madison dance and ensuring a wet eye once more.

It may sound silly, but in the wake of Bowie’s death it felt even more fortuitous to have the chance to see someone who I’ve long admired before it’s too late, and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

Vivre Anna!

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Images via Tumblr, Pintrest and Getty.