WCW: Isabelle Adjani

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Isabelle Adjani’s name is synonymous — at least for me — with French historical costume films. As someone who got/had to watch Camille Claudel multiple times in French class, I was familiar with her, but it was when Queen Margot came out that I was struck by her porcelain beauty and Snow White look. She’s also pretty darn talented in my opinion, and while she’s succumbed to anti-aging pressure, I’m glad she’s still around.

 

L’école des Femmes (1973)

This TV movie was an adaptation of a Molière play, and the costumes look pretty low budget.

1973 L'école des femmes 1973 L'école des femmes

 

L’avare (1974)

More TV, more Molière, but how cute is that hair?

1974 L'avare

Is cute hair greater than…

1974 L'avare

…shitty costumes? You decide!

 

Le Secret des Flamands (1974)

Another TV movie, this one medieval, I guess? The Flemish have secrets, yo!

1974 Le secret des Flamands

Does this count as a head necklace?

1974 Le secret des Flamands

 

Ondine (1975)

Still rockin’ the TV movie! An adaptation of a 1938 play that is set in the middle ages, about Ondine, a water sprite.

1975 Ondine

I’m guessing Adjani is the sprite, because damn, she looks it!

 

The Story of Adele H (1975)

Wherein Adjani begins her streak of tragic roles. This time, she’s Victor Hugo’s real-life daughter, and she follows her soldier boyfriend to Nova Scotia in 1863ish. Things don’t end well.

1975 The Story of Adele H

Pretty girl is sad girl.

1975 The Story of Adele H

This look never bodes well.

1975 The Story of Adele H

Lovesick by the sea!

1975 The Story of Adele H

I’m trying really hard not to notice the dupioni…

 

Les Soeurs Brontë (1975)

Welp, Trystan didn’t hate it, so that’s saying something! I made it about 5 minutes into this darkly lit and depressing fiesta.

1979 Les soeurs Bronte

Just doesn’t lure me in. At all.

 

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Arty director Werner Herzog and Dracula. Adjani plays Lucy in the now-classic story.

1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre

I’m letting all that eye makeup slide because 1. vampires and 2. she’s Lucy.

1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre

 

Quartet (1981)

An early Merchant/Ivory film. In 1920s Paris, Adjani’s character gets involved with an older, married, British couple.

1981 Quartet 1981 Quartet

 

Antonieta (1982)

As a Mexican writer who committed suicide in Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral in 1931.

1982 Antonieta

 

Camille Claudel (1988)

If you’ve studied French and haven’t watched this, I’m not sure I believe you. Adjani plays a real-life, late 19th-century sculptor who was taken under Rodin’s wing, became his lover, and then basically lost it when he dumped her. Because men, especially ones whose names are Gerard Depardieu, are jerks.

1988 Camille Claudel 1988 Camille Claudel 1988 Camille Claudel 1988 Camille Claudel

 

Queen Margot (1994)

Okay, so the hair is questionable (if beautiful), and Margot herself isn’t always the most likable, but you’ve got some great scenes of Paris and hot hot HOT sex with hot hot hottie Vincent Perez. Against a wall.

1994 Queen Margot Queen Margot

 

Adolphe (2002)

A tragic (shocker) love affair in 19th-century France, of which one plot summarizer on IMDB says “Eventually this emotional charade ends up in death and misery,” which sounds about right for 19th-century France.

2002 Adolphe

There is nothing about this that Trystan doesn’t love, trust me.

2002 Adolphe 2002 Adolphe

 

Bon Voyage (2008)

Adjani plays one of four characters trying to escape Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II.

2008 Bon Voyage

 

Figaro (2008)

The classic late 18th-century Beaumarchais play, this time adapted for TV.

2008 Figaro

 

What’s your favorite among Isabelle Adjani’s historical roles? Are any 19th-century French novels/movies not tragic?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

4 Responses

  1. picasso Manu

    To answer your questions, I liked her best when she worked at the Comédie Française… And yes, there are, but she doesn’t play in it.
    She’s very talented, but has a tendency for drama and outright depressing stories.

    And just a tiny point: Those costumes aren’t low budget (Comédie Française, people, probably the last French theatre that has an in house costume department!), they follow the “let’s make everything more simple and modern” tendency.
    Went to the Comédie last year, and am sad to report they’re not out of it yet. sigh

    Reply
  2. Trystan L. Bass

    It’s a bonnet in Adolphe – I’m not all that thrilled! But if it was a hat, yes! And if it was a black veil, even more! But the little glasses, totally on board!

    And even tho I took 5 years of French, I’ve never seen Camille Claudel. But I read Sartre & Camus :)

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Gotta go with Queen Margot (gorgy costumes & sex against wall) and Camille Claudel. Claudel was very a talented sculptor who IMHO if she had loved would have surpassed Rodin, Burghers of Calais notwithstanding.

    Reply
  4. Allison

    Nosferatu and La Reine Margot for me. Fun fact: near the end of Nosferatu, Lucy wears a rather nice replica of the gown in William Morris’ La Belle Iseult.

    Reply

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