Tag Archives: Rodin

Camille Claudel

Camille Claudel, 1864-1943, was the student, lover, and eventual enemy of the sculptor Rodin. She was a fine sculptor in her own right but had difficulty breaking free from Rodin’s influence, as well as from him personally.

Her life was very sad. After she split from Rodin, she became mentally unstable, exhibiting psychotic behaviour and bouts of paranoia. She was convinced that Rodin was trying to destroy her life and reputation. Her behaviour eventually became so disturbing that she was committed (by her brother) to an asylum from which she was never released. Despite the fact that her doctors said she was sane and could be returned to her family, they didn’t want her. She died in the asylum, spending thirty years of her life there, forbidden almost all visitors and all letters from anyone but her brother.

Much interest has been shown in the life and career of Camille Claudel, particularly with regard to the problems she suffered as the result of trying to be an independent woman and artist in a patriarchal era. Much of what has been written is biased one way or another, for or against Rodin. A more balanced account and assessment of her life and career can be found in the book Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, by J. A. Schmoll gen. Eisenwerth, originally in German but translated into several other languages.

The film Camille Claudel came out in 1988, starring Isabelle Adjani as Camille and Gerard Depardieu as Rodin. As you will see from the translated scene below, Rodin comes out of it very badly. Isabelle Adjani also played the role of Adèle Hugo in Truffaut’s L’Histoire d’Adèle H. She plays the role of the intense, romantic, and unstable woman with so much conviction it makes you feel that she has something of that nature herself. Like Camille, she is also stunningly beautiful.

For some reason, it seems to be impossible to get hold of scripts for films. I don’t know why, because they really add to your understanding of the film if you can study them and then re-watch the film. I read in Samuel Beckett’s biography that he was a fan of Bob Dylan, whom he referred to simply as The Poet. When Beckett went to New York to work on the production of one of his plays, he was introduced to Donn Pennebaker who made the Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back. Beckett asked Pennebaker for a transcript.

A transcript is even more useful if you are trying to watch a foreign film and don’t want to use the subtitles in your own language. I can read French much more easily than I can understand it when spoken fast. Sometimes you can turn on subtitles in the original language but often they are only available in other languages, which is a drag. Often a lot is lost in translation and it is better to have the original scenario.

My French teacher, Muriel, painstakingly notated this scene from the film and for my homework I translated the French to English. Both are given below. This one scene expresses the significant story elements of the film and shows the passionate and difficult relationship between Rodin and Claudel. You really need to see the film to get the beauty of it (trailers on YouTube) and the superb acting.

Film Camille Claudel – scenario – scènes 11 et 12

Une élève J’ai entendu que Mademoiselle Claudel travaillait pour elle maintenant.
A student I heard that Mlle Claudel works for herself now.
Rodin Je lui ai montré où trouver de l’or mais l’or qu’elle trouve est à elle.
Rodin I showed her where to find gold but the gold she found is her own.

Rodin marche dans la nuit. Il se retourne, se sentant suivi. Une ombre apparaît, celle de Camille. Ils marchent hâtivement l’un vers l’autre. Retrouvailles passionnées et attendrissantes. Camille pleure de joie. Ils vont au café.

Rodin walks at night. He turns around, sensing someone following him. A shadow appears, that of Camille. They walk quickly towards each other. A passionate and tender reunion. Camille cries with joy. They go to a cafe.

Camille Bien sûr, je ne suis pas très gaie. Il semble que je suis devenue une étrangère. Il y a toujours quelque chose d’absent qui me tourmente.
Camille It’s true, I’m not very happy. It seems that I have become a stranger. There is always something missing which torments me.
Rodin C’est ta voix qui a le plus changé.
Rodin It’s your voice that has changed the most.
Camille Rien de ce qui est inhumain m’est étranger. Toi au moins, tu sais y faire avec tes intrigues. Tu ne peux pas dire le contraire !
Camille Nothing inhuman is a stranger to me. You at least, you know how to do it with your affairs. You cannot deny it!

[Quote from Terence : I am a man. Nothing human is alien to me.]

Rodin Ce que tu peux être mauvaise parfois ! Je trouve que tu vas pas très bien.
Rodin You are so nasty sometimes! I don’t think you are well.
Camille Ton Balzac est une grande idée, Auguste Rodin.
Camille Your Balzac is a great idea, Auguste Rodin.
Rodin C’est pas l’avis de tout le monde. Avec cette statue, je suis devenu la risée de tout Paris. Mon Balzac, je vais finir par le mettre dans mon jardin.
Rodin Not everyone thinks that. With this statue, I have become the laughing stock of Paris. My Balzac, I will end up putting him in my garden.

Un peu plus tard, chez Camille.

A bit later, outside Camille’s house. They embrace and kiss.

Camille Reste avec moi. Je veux faire l’amour avec toi.
Camille Stay with me. I want to make love to you.
Rodin Ton petit musicien, Debussy je crois. Il faisait bien l’amour ?
Rodin Your little musician… Debussy, I believe. He’s good at making love?
Camille Tais-toi. De toute façon, je déteste la musique.
Camille Shut up. Anyway, I hate music.

They are now inside Camille’s house. Rodin has his eyes closed and is feeling her statues with his hands.

Camille Et moi, pourquoi tu ne me touches pas ?
Camille And me, why don’t you touch me?
Rodin Non laisse-moi, laisse moi découvrir ton travail, tu veux ?
Rodin No, leave me alone, let me discover/examine your work, you want me to?
Camille Pourquoi ? Tu as peur que je t’ai dépassé ?
Camille Why ? You’re afraid that I have surpassed you?
Rodin Non, mais que tu m’aies copié peut-être. Calme-toi. Sois gentille. On dit que tu vas mal mais quand je vois la quantité de travail !
Rodin No, but you might have copied me. Calm down. Be polite. People say you are not well but when I see the quantity of your work!

Rodin still has his eyes closed.

Camille Tu ne veux pas voir ?
Camille You don’t want to see?
Rodin Oh non, je préfère toucher. Je veux toucher d’abord. Avec ton beau courage, tu es un démon de volonté.
Rodin Oh no, I prefer to touch. I want to touch it first. With your strong courage, you are a demon of will-power.
Camille Tu me donnes vraiment envie de ruer dans les brancards. J’ai l’impression d’avoir ramené un huissier chez moi.
Camille You really make me want to rebel, to kick over the traces. It feels like I’ve brought a bailiff home.

Rodin has been arrested by her statue L’Age mûr, which shows a man being physically torn between an older and a younger woman. When he realises the subject of the statue, he opens his eyes.

Rodin Tu ne peux pas. Ah non, tu ne peux pas ! Je t’ai expliqué tout-à-l’heure mes embrouilles avec mon Balzac ! Si tu donnes suite à cette ébauche, une nouvelle affaire va encore éclater. Comment peux-tu réduire ce que nous avons vécu à cette image-là ?! Tu me représentes comme un pantin désarticulé par deux femmes. Cette caricature est ignoble !
Rodin You cannot do that. Oh no, you can’t. I just explained to you my problems with my Balzac. If you were to follow it with this rough draft, a new scandal will erupt. How can you reduce what we have lived together to this image here? You represent me like a puppet torn apart by two women. This caricature is disgraceful/vile.
Camille Qu’est-ce que tu veux que je fasse ?
Camille What do you want me to make/do?
Rodin Je voudrais que tu fasses ce que je te dis, voilà exactement ce que je voudrais que tu fasses et tu le sais très bien.
Rodin I would like you to make what I tell you – there you go – exactly what I want you to do and you know it very well.
Camille Tu veux que je fasse autre chose que ce que je fais. J’entends suivre mon chemin à moi. J’ai acquis ce droit.
Camille You want me to do something different to what I do. I intend to follow my own path. I have earned the right.
Rodin Non, si ton chemin te donne le droit de me ridiculiser comme ça ou de me détruire, alors tu dois y renoncer. Tu dois y renoncer. Quelques soient tes idées, tu dois me les soumettre. Il n’y a aucune comparaison entre toi et moi, aucune !!! Tu es un sculpteur de troisième ordre !
Rodin No, not if your way gives you the right to ridicule me like that or to destroy me, you have to renounce your way. You must renounce it. Whatever ideas you have, you must submit them to me. There is no comparison between you and me, none! You are a sculptor of the third order.
Camille Quoi ?!! Tu t’attaques violemment à un sculpteur de troisième ordre !
Camille What ?!! You violently attack a sculptor of the third order!
Rodin Tout vient de moi, rien de toi ! Tu te bats trop pour ta sculpture ! Il y a longtemps qu’elle se défend par elle-même ta sculpture !
Rodin Everything comes from me, nothing from you. You work too hard for your sculpture! It’s a long time since your sculpture lived on its own merits.
Camille Tu peux m’expliquer pourquoi t’es si jaloux ?
Camille Can you explain to me why you are so jealous?
Rodin Jaloux, moi ? Mais moi, je sculpte la vie, pas la mort. Toi, tu donnes tort à la vie. Tu cherches la douleur. Tu t’enivres de douleur. Tu la fabriques la douleur. Tu te représentes comme une victime, comme une martyre mais c’est toi qui es partie, c’est toi qui m’a quitté.
Rodin Me, jealous? But me, I sculpt life, not death. You, you lay blame on life. You search out pain. You get drunk on pain. You create pain. You represent yourself as a victim, like a martyr, but it was you who left, it was you who left me.
Camille Mais c’est impossible de vivre avec toi !
Camille But it’s impossible to live with you!
Rodin Mais enfin, écoute Camille, ce que nous avons fait ensemble, c’était bien. Moi j’ai toujours ressenti la nécessité pour nous de vivre sur un pied d’égalité.
Rodin But in the end, listen Camille, what we did together, that was good. I have always felt that we should live on an equal footing.
Camille Mais tout le travail que j’ai fait pour toi était bien. « Mlle Claudel, l’élève de Rodin. Mlle Claudel fait du Rodin. Mlle Claudel ramasse les miettes du maître pour les fourrer ensuite dans sa sculpture. Et c’est ce que tu as laissé faire, c’est ça que tu as été dire.
Camille But all the work I did for you was good. “Mlle Claudel, the student of Rodin. Mlle Claudel, made by Rodin. Mlle Claudel, scooping up the crumbs of the master to stuff into her sculpture.” That’s what you allowed to happen, that’s what you have been saying.
Rodin Mon dieu, finalement tu es ma pire ennemie. J’te découvre.
Rodin Good god, at last, you are my worst enemy. I reveal you.
Camille Mais tu m’as tout volé, ma jeunesse, mon travail, tout !
Camille But you stole everything from me, my youth, my work, everything!
Rodin Tu m’accuses d’avoir gâché ta vie ?
Rodin You accuse me of ruining your life?
Camille Mais j’aurais préféré ne jamais te rencontrer. J’aurais préféré être dans un asile, là où tu aimerais bien me mettre d’ailleurs !
Camille I would have preferred it if I had never met you. I would have preferred to be in an asylum, which is where you would really like me to be, by the way.
Rodin Tu es complètement saoule. Mais tu es complètement ivre morte, complètement saoule. Il parait que tu bois maintenant. On dit que tu bois, partout.
Rodin You are totally pissed. You are completely dead drunk, totally pissed. It seems that you drink now. Everyone everywhere says that you drink.
Camille Mais si j’arrêtais de boire, on dirait que c’est toi et tout le monde verrait que c’est toi qui m’a mise dans un état pareil. Alors que tout le monde pense que je suis dans cet état parce que je bois, alors laisse les croire que je bois.
Camille But if I were to stop drinking, all the world would see that it is you who put me in the same state. So, all the world sees that I am in this state because I drink, so let them believe that I drink.
Rodin Camille, je suis sculpteur professionnel reconnu. Je te soutiens. Je sais que tu peux te vanter d’avoir contre toi tous les gens qui ne connaissent rien.
Rodin Camille, I am a famous, professional sculptor. I support you. I know that you can boast of having everyone who knows nothing against you.
Camille Qu’est-ce que tu veux dire professionnel ? Ca veut dire quoi ? Diriger trois ateliers à la fois pour cumuler les commandes ? Ca veut dire position sociale au lieu de mettre la main à la pâte lorsque tes ouvriers, tu les colles au travail mais tu mets seulement ta couche finale à tes marbres. Et moi, en tant qu’artiste, tu t’étonnes que je refuse ce système ?
Camille What do you mean professional? That means what? Managing three studios at the same time so that you can accumulate commissions? That means your social position instead of putting your hands in the clay when your workers… you stick them to work but you put the final touch to their marbles. And me, being an artist, you are surprised that I refuse that system?
Rodin Ca va ! Arrête avec tes ragots ! C’est des calomnies ! Arrête avec tes salades !
Rodin Okay. Stop with your gossip! Those are calumnies ! Stop with your nonsense!
Camille Des salades ?! Parlons-en de tes salades ! Tu as besoin d’appuis politicards pour défendre ton travail ?
Camille Nonsense ? You talk about nonsense! You need the support of some political shenanigans/scheming to help your work?
Rodin Mais je ne suis ni dreyfusard ni anti dreyfusard si c’est ça que tu veux dire ?!
Rodin But I am neither Dreyfussard or anti-Dreyfussard, if that is what you mean.
Camille Toi, au moins si tu choisissais ton camps par conviction ! Mais moi quand j’ai appris que tu étais avec les dreyfusards, que tu les soutenais uniquement pour intérêt personnel, pour pouvoir enfin exposer ton Balzac, enfin exposer ton Balzac, mais moi, je suis devenue anti dreyfusard !
Camille You, you could at least choose your camp by conviction! But me, when I learned you were with the Dreyfussards, that you supported them just for selfish reasons, to be able to finally exhibit your Balzac, me, I became an anti-Dreyfussard.
Rodin Ca suffit comme ça ! Arrête !!!
Rodin That’s enough of that! Stop it !

Tout deux s’arrêtent et regardent en silence la sculpture de la petite Châtelaine.

Both of them stop and look in silence at the sculpture ‘La Petite Châtelaine’. Rodin walks away towards the back of the studio.

Rodin C’est ridicule. Quel gâchis ! Quand je t’ai rencontrée, tu étais pour moi la femme la plus sexuellement désirable dans ce monde.
Rodin This is ridiculous. What a mess. When I met you, you were for me the most sexually desirable woman in the world.
Camille Toi, le sculpteur, toi qui as caressé mon ventre nu, tu n’as même pas pu voir ce qui avait changé.
Camille You, the sculptor, you who caressed my naked stomach, you weren’t even able to see that it had changed.

Camille s’assied. Rodin est à genou.

Camille sitting down. Rodin on his knees before her.

Rodin Si j’avais su que tu attendais un enfant, je t’aurais épousée.
Rodin If I had known you were pregnant, I would have married you.
Camille Pendant des années, tu n’as pas voulu… Tu n’as jamais voulu choisir. Tu n’as jamais rien décidé.
Camille Over the years, you didn’t want… you never wanted to choose. You never decided anything.
Rodin Je n’ai jamais aimée que toi.
Rodin I never loved anyone but you.
Camille Je ne pouvais pas te partager. C’était un combat pour moi.
Camille I could never share you. That was a battle for me.
Rodin Que veux-tu que je te dise ? Tu t’es trompée, y a rien à dire. C’est fini. C’est fini, les complications sentimentales. Je ne veux plus. Je ne peux plus rentrer dans la tyrannie des émotions. Je ne peux plus.
Rodin What do you want me to say? You are mistaken, there is nothing to say about it. It’s finished. It’s over, my complicated love life. I don’t want any more. I can’t go back to the tyranny of the emotions. I can’t do it any more.
Camille Au moment de mourir, tu hésiteras encore !…
Camille At the moment of your death, you will still hesitate!

Rodin la quitte. Camille effondrée et brisée pleure.

Rodin leaves her. Camille collapses and breaks down, crying.

Camille Pourquoi ?
Camille Why?