The intrepid Mata Hari of the Civil War obsessed with Lorca that drove Luis Buñuel crazy

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Actress and poet Karin Lannby died in Paris in 2007 after a long life, not without mystery. The great paradox is that its legend, enlarged with the passage of time, does not contribute to clarify its polyhedral personality. She was passionate about Lorca and the theater, but she was also a journalist, translator and occasional spy in the service of the Spanish Republic.

He was born in Linköping (Sweden) in 1916 to a wealthy family. His father was the delegate of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer and his mother was a person linked to the aristocracy. Karin joined the Communist Party in the mid-1930s when she was studying at the university in Stockholm.

There are images of her at the Paris Writers Congress in 1935, but by that time she had already visited Spain. On a trip with her mother through our geography, the Swedish actress was present at the premiere of “Blood Wedding” in Barcelona. It was 1933 and she was fascinated by the Spanish playwright and poet. “It was at Poliorama, she became crazy about Lorca and established an obsessive bond with him,” says Alicante director Fran Ruvira, who has spent years researching his life for a documentary.

Ruvira corroborates the unreliability of the testimonies and documents about her biography, full of inconsistencies, because Karin Lannby always navigated “between fiction and reality”. It is known with certainty, however, that she worked in an Alcoy hospital during the Civil War and that she also served as a translator for the Republican government.

Given her sympathy for communism and her ties to the Comintern, she was sent to the south of France, specifically to Bayonne, to try to infiltrate the national side and report on her troop movements. But it failed and was detained for a short period of time. He fell out of favor, so he had to return to his native country.

In 1940, she was recruited by Swedish espionage. It operated under the code name Anette and reportedly kept in touch with the Nazis to try to find out if they had plans to invade Sweden, key to mineral supplies. There are also those who point out that he was an agent of the Soviet NKVD, but there is no evidence of this.

It was around this time that he had a turbulent love affair with
Ingmar Bergman

, who inspired several films. The Swedish filmmaker never forgot it despite the fact that violence and frequent disputes marked their coexistence. “Crisis” (1947) and
“Passion” (1969) are based on that relationship.

Luis Buñuel also mentions it in “My last breath”, his memoirs, in which he recounts that he had traveled to Stockholm on behalf of the Republic to convince Karin to serve as a spy. He admits that he fell in love with the actress, but that he never dared to take the step of trying to establish relationships. “We didn’t even exchange a kiss,” he writes.

According to Fran Ruvira, Karin dedicated herself to journalism after the end of World War II, enjoying a passing celebrity when locating and interviewing Salvatore Giuliano, a Sicilian independence bandit who was identified with Robin Hood.

He settled in Paris in the early 1950s and there he met Cocteau, Malraux, Juliette Gréco and Picasso. He stabilized his hectic existence after marrying an ex-worker named Louis Bouyer, who gave him his last name, according to Ruvira’s research. She is buried in a Paris cemetery. .


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