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
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.