Artistic Genius


My young friend, Margaret, at a fun blog recommended I see this

movie, “Camille Claudel” which is a French movie about Rodin and

one of his many female apprentices, who became enraptured with

him, became an artist by her ‘own right,’ and ultimately finished her

life in a mental

institution for 30 years. This was another example of how being a

woman during a different time period created challenges for her

own ability to present her artwork, mainly sculptures, to the world.


Poor dear Camille Claudel.

While getting this movie, you may have to go through a rather

complicated ‘search,’ since mine took me on a nearly ‘wild goose



This was not available in the state of Ohio, in DVD form?

How is this possible?


Anyway, Central Campus of Southern State Community College

sent Delaware County District Library the movie, “Camille Claudel”

in VHS form. Thank goodness, I have one of those tiny televisions

with a VHS ‘drawer’ installed in it. It is one that has accompanied

more than one of my own three children off to college in the late

90’s and early 2000’s.


The director is Bruno Nuytten and has the sense of darkness in

his scenes and perspective thrown into his filming close shots.

The main actor, portraying Rodin, is Gerard Depardieu who was

in the American movie, “Green Card” and is well know for his

Academy Award nominated role in, “Jean de Florette.” The

female character is played beautifully by Isabelle Adjani. She

may be recognized for several roles but more famous, at least to

me while playing in, “Ishtar.” She was nominated for her portrayal

of  a character she played in, “Story of Adelett.”


This fine French film, “Camille Claudel, fascinated me. It was truly a

disturbing masterpiece. It  was nominated for “Best Foreign Language

Film” in 1989. (Gerard Depardieu was thin and muscular in this film.)

The story begins with a young, lithe woman in an alley in Paris, where

she is digging into a cliff of what looks like mud.  This must have some

amount of ‘clay’ in it.  She is gathering clumps of this, being muddy

from head to foot, and flinging it into her large container; like a bucket.


The brutal cold scene depicts snow on the ground.

It is February, 1885.


Camille’s story is full of  harrowing and intensely dramatic moments.

I hope you may look up her fantastic sculptures.  One which has the

name of “The Chatterboxes.” In the film, the piece looks like it is

carved from black coal, in its raw material state.

The beautiful sculptures may be viewed at the Musee D’Orsay in

Paris, France. Or much closer, you may look Camille Claudel on

the Internet.


Another, called, “Age of Maturity,” a neighbor child named Robert

asks such a sweet and insightful question of Camille of a gorgeous


“How did you know there were people inside the big rock?”

As if she had chiseled them Micah said,

“Out of their hiding place, like in a cave.”


My grandson, age 5 1/2 mentioned when I had him come across the

room where I sat at the dining table watching this film.

Micah was over by the living room section of my apartment watching

Saturday morning “Sponge Bob Square Pants” episodes and eating

pancakes he had helped make.


Later, he took a “cartoon break” to wash the dishes, taking his shirt off

and standing on my step stool. He rushed out to see a particularly

dramatic scene where the noise caught his attention.


Sadly, Camille Claudel was used and debased in every way.

She became a model, muse and an original artist and sculptor,

under the tutelage of Rodin.


She lost touch with her father, mother, brother and reality by

becoming immersed and having a long-lasting affair with Rodin.

Rodin’s wife who lives apart from Rodin, while he is ensconced

in his huge studio, calls Camille loudly on the streets, “Whore”

and many obscenities.


I felt it was most depressing that her husband is still given his

wife’s adoring attention, not disparaging HIM with the same

kind of swearing in other scenes. She persuades him after many

years of his intimate relationship with Camille, to move away.

When Camille is eventually thrown out of Rodin’s studio, having

served her time with him for almost 28 years, I cried. It is such

a tragedy, but you cannot help wanting to see more. . .


Camille writes long letters to the Court and Magistrate, asking

and pleading for her own sculptures and art pieces, ones she

designed to be given back. She independently had created lovely

marble sculptures with fine detailed hands, arched backs and

her brother finds her living in the upstairs of an abandoned

building, wishing to use his fame as a poet, along with his good

friend, “Blot,” who wishes to be her ‘benefactor.’ He is meaning

by helping financially and wonderfully is not asking her to give

her still beautiful body to him.


There is a point when the Court says she was ‘paid’ for her donations

of her artwork. (They were stolen and kept by Rodin.)

Camille defiantly declares,

“I burned the check!”


Her anger at her inability to get her own art back leads her to yell

about “Rodin’s gang.” She feels that France calling her sculptures,

“Property of the State,” are wrong but cannot find anyone at any

level to listen to her pleas. Her friend and lawyer, “Dr. Michaux,”

tried his best to defend her. The cops who haul her each time out

of the courtroom seem to show a more sympathetic view, as they

take her away.


When her father is dying, Camille goes to see him, she listens but

cries as he says she ‘disappointed him,’ but he ‘still loves her.’

There is something hurtful and touching in her studying the

Her brother, after the one singularly amazing gallery opening,

describes her pieces as lighting the inner beauty and qualities

of people through her sculptures. They have such delicate and

sensitive details, but she later while they are transported back

to where she is ‘squatting,’ is told not one piece was sold. Her

appearance in finery at the opening, with rouge and red lips

made her appear scandalous, unfortunately.


Camille destroyed many of her pieces, her madness in these

scenes of devastation is understandable. I would have gone

mad, under the circumstances.

The authorities never jail her in prison.


It was her own brother who ultimately, ‘betrayed her,’ and using

the ‘excuse’ of preventing her from hurting herself, placed her in

the mental institution.


Camille Claudel was put into a mental institution in March, 1913.

She lived, ‘imprisoned’ there, until 1943.


Camille never did any more artwork after she was placed there.

This was her own way of rebelling and refusing to ‘buckle under



Thank so much for recommending this, Margaret! Your comment,

after reading my post about Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna Mozart

led me to watch this. You were so right in your choice of this movie,

another example where because of her gender, along with her

choice to become involved with a famous sculptor and artist,

she lost herself.

You may find Margaret who has a clever and funny video of

herself recently on a post at:



The best question I feel needs to be asked,

“Where does creative passion separate from insanity?”



Onward later tonight, I will be watching, “Amadeus,” which I had

seen so many years before. . .

My grandson, Micah, is with me, while playing Teenage Mutant

Ninja Turtle ‘free games,’  I will try to check a few posts out.


18 responses »

  1. I am so glad you found it as intriguing as I do. There is still a lot of sebate about exactly how much of Rodin’s work is actually product of Claudel’s labor. One of my favorite places on earth is the Musée Rodin in Paris which has a small Claudel section (and, apparently, all the feet of Rodin’s pieces are her work). The story is just heartbreaking. And such beauty came from it.

    Thank you for saying such nice things about my blog! Have a wonderful day with your grandson. TMNT sounds like a great pairing with Amadeus 🙂

    • I am laughing out loud, you silly goose! TMNT and Amadeus! I did watch that movie, was disconcerted that I did not enjoy it as much as the first time. I do wonder if his competitor did give him something to murder or poison him, but shall not be writing a whole post about that movie.
      Thank you so much for recommending Camille Claudel, so glad you have visited Musee Rodin and seen some of Claudel’s work there. I have been to two Picasso exhibits, one in Cleveland and one in Spain. I would like to go to France someday. . .
      Very few people (if any) use your name and wondered if you use a nickname? Hugs, Robin

      • I don’t have a nickname, well other than Pumps (short for pumpkin) and girlfriends call me Margarita. You are welcome to call me either just don’t call me late to dinner 😀

      • Ha ha, you are so funny! I am like you, better not call me late for dinner! I liked the character in “Little Women,” whose nickname was “Meg.” I have been known as Beth, for one summer, (I was tired of Robin and used my middle name) and I have had all kinds of nicknames. I like “Margarita,” since my oldest daughter calls me “Mamacita.” (Little mother).
        I shall keep on using your Margaret, but keep in mind the sweet name of ‘”Pumps.” I used to call my youngest, “Punkin’ dunkin'” and my oldest “Care Bear.” Well, better move on to other comments… smiles!

  2. i saw it too, and loved it, and learned a lot and it was very sad. have fun tonight with your grandie and watching your movie. ps – i just got mozart’s sister from my library and will watch it tomorrow per your recommendation. it seems we have very similar taste in movies. )

    • This is not surprising about our movie choices… Beth, I was a little sad or disconcerted there was no mention of Mozart’s sister in Amadeus, it seemed to be more about ‘madness’ than genius… I hope you like the Mozart’s sister movie, Beth.
      Glad you saw this one, maybe awhile back, which I had missed it so long ago…. Camille’s sculptures show a heart and emotion, now I don’t see as much in Rodin’s art pieces. xo

  3. I remember seeing this one when it first came out but it was so long ago I only have vague memories of the story. This makes me think I should go back and watch it again.
    Amadeus is one of my all-time favs and was the reason I decided to open my mind up to opera; I’m glad I did.
    Another one along those lines, though not quite as big-budget as Amadeus is Francois Girard’s – The Red Violin. If you haven’t seen that, I strongly suggest you check it out.

    • “The Red Violin” told a few stories that were very interesting, of the history of one violin with a few musicians who played it, right? The one story which had the origin of how the violin’s stain became red was poignant. I have forgotten much of it, trying to remember the fine black actor in this film, too.
      Norm, I liked “Amadeus” more the first time, isn’t that funny? Now, I am rather disconcerted because I wished to know more about the family, less about the bawdy, rather raucous personal life of Mozart. This one has a whole different feeling, along with the open-ended question, did Salieri kill Mozart?
      The sculptures on the internet are so gorgeous of Camille Claudel, also was interested in verybangled (Margaret’s) comment about the feet that Claudel worked on are on display in the Rodin museum in Paris. Thanks so much for writing this and am glad you mentioned “The Red Violin,” which others may wish to check out, too.

  4. After reading your post and the comments, I feel like I am hanging out with a very sophisticated, ‘artsy’ crowd, and I must say the intellectual stimulation feels great. If we were all to meet in person, we would have to wear fancy clothes or period costumes. Wouldn’t that be a great way to gather in the home theater for a special screening of Amadeus or one of the other great films you have recommended? Perhaps I will locate a copy of Claudel or Mozart’s Sister at the local library, but no luck so far. – Mike

    • The movies had to be ‘sent for,’ Mike. Mozart’s Sister was not in Delaware, Ohio nor was the Amadeus or the Camille film. They said they had Amadeus in the past, but had less and less ‘rentals’ of it, so they sold it at their annual May book and media garage sale.
      I love the idea of us wearing period pieces. I have an antique dress with beads and embroidery which I used to do the historic homes tour drawings, so they often had me selling the stationery with my drawings for the monies to go to either the AAUW organization or the Women’s City Club, where they have old-fashioned tea parties. I really appreciate your saying we seem rather intellectual, Mike! You fit right in, here!

    • Good luck and hope you will be able to find this one, my dear! I love the gravatar, I know I have mentioned this in the past, but you are the most lovely pregnant woman!!

  5. YAY, A MOVIE ROBIN REVIEWS THAT I SAW!!!! Yes, I saw this on TV. I was so taken with it, and I’d forgotten about it, but thank you for reminding me. I felt SO bad for her!!!

    • I do feel bad for Camille and so happy for you to be part of the conversation, Luanne! Yay! I think you have seen plenty of movies I have mentioned, or read the books… smiles!

  6. Wow, I’m almost crying as I read this. Poor Camille! I can’t imagine the horror of her life. And dying in a mental institution??? Horrific! I’ve been in them for 5 times, but they were regular hospitals.
    I can only imagine the devastation to her soul being imprisoned caused.

    • It was definitely a tear Jeter but beautifully filmed. I found myself rewinding to study the art and sculpting. I think I mentioned subtitles, didn’t I? You sre looking at some really long and older posts. Thank you for this sweet gesture. Melinda, I have to go to work in 6 hours so I will head to sleep. I am hoping to read more on your past, sorry you have had some hospital stays. My good friend from college hears voices snd also is manic depressive. She has been hospitalized three timrs. No worries about confidential thoughts, ask and I will delete any thing you wish. . . Hugs, Robin

      • Yes, I’d need subtitles too!
        Thanks, I have come to grips with my mental illness. Oh no, poor girl. It is sooo difficult to live with! Even on proper meds, things still happen. I have been in 4 x. No worries, I am pretty open about it. Talking about it helps others to understand a bit, and be more empathetic.

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