French director Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915 (2013), which premièred at last year’s Berlin Film Festival, sees Juliette Binoche take the lead as the famous French artist and lover of Auguste Rodin. The main thrust of Dumont’s latest sees Camille placed by her brother, the Catholic poet Paul Claudel (Jean-Luc Vincent), in a remote mental institution where she remained for 30 years up until her death. Here, Dumont constructs a stripped-down formal universe that bends not inwards to his tragic heroine, but pushes her outwards towards transcendental hopelessness and an easy acceptance of her desperate situation. Earlier this year we caught up with Dumont to discuss Camille Claudel 1915, his first collaboration with Binoche and the complexities of mental illness.
DM: You’ve previously said that Binoche was foolhardy for wanting to work with you. Why was that, exactly?
BD: For that very reason is why she came to me. She wanted to her own boundaries and she wanted to change her art and try something new.
DM: In your opinion, was Camille Claudel actually mentally ill, or were her crimes against her time and its patriarchal leanings?
Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915 is out on DVD now. To read our review of the film, simply follow this link.