Camille Claudel 1915: A Piece of Cinema History

Based on the real events of Camille Claudel’s time at an asylum, Camille Claudel 1915 is a truly magnificent piece of cinema history.

Director: Bruno Dumont

Starring: Juliette Binoche

The film brings to life a stunning portrayal of Camille Claudel who, if anyone is unsure, was the infamous mistress of the sculptor Auguste Rodin.

We follow Camille, played by the astonishingly talented Juliette Binoche (Chocolat), through a year of her life as she struggles to adjust to her life in an asylum and the longing to leave it.

The film begins with intertitles giving background knowledge to Camille and this also happens at the end of the film where we find out what happened to her for the duration of her life.

The director, Bruno Dumont (Flandres, Humanité) uses actual medical reports to create an excellent portrayal of her life and uses a very still filming technique which could indicate and symbolise Camille’s monotonous life.

This must-see cornerstone of cinema history sees Binoche give one of her greatest performances as she works alongside real patients in the asylum and really shows distress that Camille went through.

One element about the film that is instantly noticeable is the lack of music. Most sound comes from the other patients and other natural sounds.

It could be suggested that this was done intentionally to portray the boring and monotonous life that Camille lives whilst in the asylum.

As well as the lack of music, there is a considerable lack of dialogue between the characters, despite the odd monoloque-esque piece, but all this proves is just how talented Binoche really is and how she can portray a character’s emotions without verbal communication.

Through the use of monotone colours of grey and black, the film brings to life the dreary, grey life of 1915 war-torn France and is thrust onto us from the very opening scene.

Rodin is frequently mentioned throughout the film and it is implied that because of him, Camille is in the asylum and it is all because he was jealous of her work.

Furthermore, the film will make you constantly pose questions in your head such as ‘Why did her family put her in the asylum?’, ‘Will her brother get her out?’

The film is moving from start to finish as it is obvious from the start that Camille should not be in the asylum.

There are some occasions where the film will make you smile but then will instantly jump back to the gritty, realist film that it is supposed to portray.

It is without a doubt a beautifully shot film and deals with a real character and story that some people may not be familiar with.

Camille Claudel 1915 is is a film that should definitely be added to your film collection.

This film might not be one that everyone will enjoy but there is no denying that the film is a must-see purely for Binoche’s performance.


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