Camille Claudel

"Acclaimed director Bruno Dumont (Hors Satan, The Life fF Jesus) teams up with the incomparable Juliette Binoche to explore three days in the life of troubled sculptor Camille Claudel. In 1913 Claudel was sent by her family to a mental institution, where she remained until her death 30 years later.
As much a film about the personal, philosophical and religious struggles of her brother, the poet Paul Claudel (Vincent) – who had it in his power to release her – as it is a sensitive study of a tragically misunderstood and mistreated artist, Camille Claudel 1915 is a beautifully poised, elegant and superbly performed film about madness and the creative spirit in confinement."

For those of us who have personal experience of variable mental health, I suspect this will be a hard film to watch. Meet in the bar from 6 and afterwards to the Dorset for a chat and a drink to drown our sorrows.

http://vimeo.com/64881667

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  • David S.

    Sorry to labour the point , Phil, but it seems clear from the available evidence that the inmates who were played by people with 'learning difficulties' were not cognizant of the situation & were not "acting". Participants such as Alexandre Lucas ( Mademoiselle Lucas) were told that Binoche was "Camille" as they could not understand the concept of acting out roles. The result was that Alexandre Lucas became distressed when "Camille" harshly rejected her hand of friendship. This was not "acting" - Alexandre Lucas was genuinely upset by Camille's rebuff. The relevant point is that it was not necessary to cast people with severe learning difficulties in the role of fellow inmates. The real Camille was in the Asylum's psychiatric wing & she would have been surrounded by other people with mental illness. Camille was diagnosed as paranoid. Binoche is an actor & other actors could have played manic depressives, schizophrenics, etc. It's not like a wheelchair user i.e. Binoche isn't really ill

    August 6

  • David S.

    Margaret, I, too, thought it was refreshing that the film showed the nuns being kind and considerate to the inmates of the asylum, but it appears that this was "artistic licence", a device invented by the film's director. The asylum at Montdevergues, where Claudel was incarcerated has been described as "a miserable place ... a second-rate institution even by the backward standards of the time, the kind of place where it was routine for the staff to steal from the packages sent by relatives to the inmates so that they would not go hungry themselves." I am not even certain that the place was, in reality, staffed by nuns.

    August 3

  • David S.

    Ellen, the Montdevergues Asylum, where Claudel was held for 29 years was a psychiatric institution, not a home for people with learning difficulties. (The mystic Von Schierstaedt was a fellow patient in 1915 and he was also a paranoiac). The people who took part in "The Undateables" were not mentally handicapped like Alexandra Lucas who played the role of Mademoiselle Lucas in the film. Alexandre Lucas does not even have the facility of language. She was clearly not 'acting' and consciously participating in the drama. Alexandre Lucas is not even listed as a cast member. As one film reviewer remarked "Does Alexandra Lucas , as a woman who wants to be Claudel's friend, understand that when "Camille" snaps at her angrily and pushes her away, Juliette Binoche was just acting? " I think not - and so maintain that the men and women who were clearly severely handicapped were being exploited by the film's director.

    August 3

  • David S.

    I still believe that the mentally handicapped women and men who were used in the film were being exploited by the director, but that was not my main reason for disliking the film. Bruno Dumont, the director of 'Camille Claudel 1915', makes "art films". Although the film had good visuals, Dumont does not appear to be overly concerned with character and narrative. Dumont cannot write convincing dialogue. Most of the words coming from the mouths of Camille and Paul Claudel had been lifted directly from written letters and journals and had little relation to how people speak in conversation. The scene where Paul Claudel talks to the priest was unreal and unconvincing. The contributions of the Asylum's Head Doctor in his "conversations" with Camille were verging on the ludicrous. The story of Camille Claudel is a fascinating one and could be used to explore many themes (the nature of genius and madness, the position of women artists in society, etc.) but this film blew the opportunity.

    August 3

  • David S.

    I am glad Phil arranged the Meetup for the 'Camille Claudel 1915' film, as it was a subject that interests me and I have fond memories of the 1988 movie 'Camille Claudel' directed by Bruno Nuytten starring Isabelle Adjani , but I am afraid I was very disappointed by the film. A good acting performance from Juliette Binoche, some fine visuals and cinematography, but I thought the script/screenplay was dire and the decision to use people with learning difficulties (formerly termed "mentally handicapped') as extras was dubious and exploitative. Apart from the lead character, Camille Claudel herself, the asylum did not appear to have any inmates who were suffering from a mental illness or psychiatric disorder (clinical depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc.). Although the use of mentally handicapped extras, helped the director to suggest Claudel's isolation and alienation, it did not facilitate dialogue or drama. Binoche was excellent but other roles (e.g. doctor) were flat. Tedious ..

    1 · July 30

    • Ellen F.

      It did initially feel a bit voyeuristic, but I tend to agree with Phil's comments now I have thought about it a bit. I have a friend who works with someone who was featured on 'The Undateables' and he was certainly aware of what he was doing and was pleased to have the chance to try to find a girlfriend, however dubious the programme may seem to some people. It's easy to be patronising and assume that people with some kind of learning difficulty don't have the capacity to make decisions.

      August 2

    • Ellen F.

      I was surprised, though, that the asylum appeared to be full of people with learning difficulty, and can only assume that in those less enlightened days that no distinction was made between the two.

      August 2

  • Margaret

    I was very keen to see this film so really pleased Phil arranged it, thanks. Some good and atmospheric photography, beautiful scenery particularly on the walk up the hill. Good too that it was not all negative, quite rare for films to show nuns being kind! Would have liked a bit more about Camille's work and background to her being placed in the asylum.

    1 · July 30

  • Ellen F.

    Sadly, I was a bit sleepy, so every time my eyes drooped I missed a bit of the sub-titles! I was expecting a bit more story, but the film was interesting and thought-provoking. It made me want to look up the background and facts of the events, which I thought was a positive.

    1 · July 30

  • Phil P.

    The sound of stone under foot and the wind in the trees - lighter moments in a generally stark and claustrophobic film. Quietly sad, the only positives being, perhaps, that the nuns were not so grim as they usually appear in films. Probably reflects many people's experience of mental illness, its not so often so dramatic that there is a quick, grim, ending - very often it slowly grinds on for years.

    It does what it does very well - what it does it hard to watch.

    2 · July 29

  • sheelagh

    Unable to get ticket was sold out when I arrived

    July 29

  • Hilary

    Really sorry, but I'm going to have to pass on this now. I've got to go Aylesbury and won't be back in time....Hope I can make the next one!

    July 29

  • Sandra L.

    Thanks for all that info bout film Phil.Iwas confused as have already seen a great film about Camille some years ago and wondered initially if it was a re release,but it obviously isn't.The film I saw was about her meeting Rodan,her time with him, then her descent into mental illness.It ended with her being taken off in a black van.Has anyone seen that film?

    July 21

    • pip

      I saw that, it was 1988, with Isabelle Adjani

      July 24

    • Sandra L.

      Blimey! That long ago! You have a good memory,thanks for that.

      July 26

  • Roxy

    Great that you put this up, I've been wondering about it. It may not look like a bundle of laughs, but certainly does look interesting

    1 · July 18

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