French films

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Seraphine


Seraphine is a beautiful, poignant French film that explores the life and art work of Seraphine Louis.  Orphaned by the age of seven, Seraphine led a humble, isolated life working as a house cleaner in Senlis, France at the turn of the 20thCentury.   Without friends or family, Seraphine found solace in solitary walks in the countryside and prayer in church.  Her one secret passion in life was an obsessive,  spiritual urge to paint what she experienced and saw in nature during her long walks in the meadows and forests surrounding Senlis. Seraphine spent her evenings painting flowers and fruits  using paint that she made from plant dyes and melted candle wax.  Unable to purchase canvas or fine paint brushes, Seraphine painted on discarded slabs of wood and often used her fingers to apply paint.   It was by chance that in 1912 that one of her wooden slab paintings - a still-life of apples - was discovered by Wilhelm Uhde, a German art collector who happened to be visiting one of the homes where Seraphine worked as a house cleaner.  Uhde was astonished to learn that the artist was the strange and reclusive domestic, Seraphine.  Uhde befriended Seraphine and supported her artistic efforts until WWI erupted and Uhde left France.  He reunited with Seraphine after the war and encouraged her once again to continue with her painting.  Although Seraphine died impoverished and institutionalized in a mental asylum, her work lives on in the Musee Maillol in Paris, the Musee d’art de Senlis, and the Musee d’art naïf in Nice.  Seraphine was directed by Martin Provost.  In 2009 this film won seven Cesar Awards, (the French equivalent of the Academy Awards ), including Best Film and Best Actress for Yolande Moreau.