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Seeing Sarah BernhardtPerformance and Silent Film$
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Victoria Duckett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039669

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039669.001.0001

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The Ladies of the Camellias

(p.71) 3. Camille
Seeing Sarah Bernhardt

Victoria Duckett

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how Camille adapted and changed the speed, structure, and meaning of Sarah Bernhardt's live play. La Dame aux Camélias was a film made by the French Film d'Art in late 1911 and released to French, American, and English audiences in early 1912. In America, Canada, and Mexico, it was released as Camille and sold with Madame Réjane's Mme. Sans-Gêne on a states' rights basis as part of a double bill. With Bernhardt at the helm of Camille, cinematized theater became an art nouveau product par excellence. This chapter argues that Bernhardt's use of the spiral in physical action and her taste for oriental colors and objects is evidence of the broader impact that japonisme was having on the fine arts in France. It also contends that the different classes, generations, and national audiences that celebrate Camille are proof of Bernhardt's international fame just as they are evidence of her capacity to realize and express contemporary tastes and fashion.

Keywords:   japonisme, Camille, Sarah Bernhardt, theater, art nouveau, spiral, physical action, fine arts, France, fashion

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