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Film / Camille Claudel

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Camille Claudel is a 1988 biopic film from France directed by Bruno Nuttyen.

It's a biopic of the 19th century sculptor of that name. The film starts in 1885, with 21-year-old Claudel (Isabelle Adjani) already working as a sculptor and hoping to study with the great Auguste Rodin. Her father and her brother Paul are supportive of her career but her mother is violently opposed—in fact, her mother seems to just generally hate Camille.

Rodin (Gérard Depardieu) visits Camille's tiny studio, gives her a little advice, then tells her he doesn't have time to take her on as a pupil. She does however get a job in Rodin's much larger studio. Rodin lets her have some leftover marble, which she sculpts into a human foot that greatly impresses Rodin. He takes more of an interest in Camille, and soon they are lovers and she is his protege. Rodin also takes credit for her work. Eventually their relationship ends in an ugly breakup, which sends Claudel spiraling into insanity.

See also Camille Claudel 1915, a movie starring Juliette Binoche and concentrating on Claudel's grim later life.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The real Claudel was not exactly homely, but she wasn't as attractive as the gloriously beautiful Isabelle Adjani.
  • And Starring: Alain Cuny, who plays Camille's father Louis-Prosper, gets a "with the participation of" credit.
  • Biopic: Of the life of Camille Claudel, who bursts onto the art scene in late 19th-century France, only to go insane and die forgotten and unappreciated.
  • Call-Back: Claudel first makes an impression on Rodin when she sends him her sculpture of a foot. Near the end of the movie, when she's gone insane, she throws the foot in the river.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: It's a sign of Claudel's deteriorating mental state when she's living in a dirty artist's studio with too many cats.
  • Daddy's Girl: While Camille's mother seethes with rage over her daughter doing something as scandalous as sculpting, her father supports her and her career and the two are close. The death of Louis-Prosper Claudel is a decisive negative turning point in Camille's life.
  • Downer Ending: Camille's brother Paul has her committed to an insane asylum, where she spends the last thirty years of her life, never sculpting again.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Camille leaves a doctor's office, after being told she's pregnant. The camera then pans up to show the brand-new, less than half-finished Eiffel Tower behind her.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening sequence shows Camille so passionate about her art that she's digging clay out of a workmen's ditch, to use in her sculptures.
  • Fanservice Extra: An assortment of attractive women who pose nude for Rodin's sculptures. Inverted when Claudel gets a wrinkled old lady to pose topless.
  • Historical Domain Character: Almost all of them, including Claudel, Rodin, and Claude Debussy.
  • It's All Junk: Near the end Claudel, in full mental breakdown, smashes up a whole storehouse of her statuary.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: The film ends with a chilling zoom out from a picture of an elderly Claudel, as titles note that she was held in the insane asylum for thirty years, until she died.
  • Love Triangle: Claudel eventually breaks it off with Rodin because, among other things, he is still seeing his mistress, Rose.
  • Madness Makeover: Towards the end, as Claudel starts to slip into alcoholism and madness. Formerly a modest dresser, she shows up for an exhibition of her art drunk, tarted up to the nines in a red dress and hat with plumes and slathered with makeup. Her prim Catholic brother Paul, who is putting on the show, is horrified.
  • Say My Name: As Claudel starts to break down, one scene has her in the street outside of Rodin's house, screaming "RODIN!" over and over again, in between insults. (She blames him, apparently unfairly, for the decline of her career.)
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Rodin turns to see Claudel, her dress half off, striking a pose on the stand that his model has just vacated. He embraces her passionately, and the camera pans up.
  • Significant Background Event: As Camille and Rodin kiss passionately in a corner, Mr. Claudel is seen in the background, through a door, slapping his son Paul in the face. For no obvious reason.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Camille sees her British friend and fellow sculptor Jennie Lipscomb off on the train. She calls out for Jennie to "give Rodin's secrets to the English!"
  • Voiceover Letter
    • Camille sends one to Rodin where she writes that she Sleeps in the Nude and that she misses him.
    • Near the end a darker instance of this, when Camille's voiceover letter to her brother Paul basically pleas for a connection, and also asks him to send a little money as she can't afford to heat her apartment.
    • And then the film ends with a voiceover letter from Camille to Paul, where she begs for mercy and asks him to release her from the mental hospital.