Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity — 1997 Documentary Revisits the Philosopher’s Life & Work

Opening with a childhood story from his life, the documentary above, Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity, tells us that the philosopher/journalist/novelist’s first love was “the howling and the tumult of the wind.” It’s a beautiful image for a writer who confronted the pain, joy, and confusion of human existence without the ready-made props of religious belief, nationalist allegiance, or ideological conformity. Camus’ “madness of sincerity” produced enduring work like The Stranger, The Plague, The Rebel, The First Man, and The Fall and won him a Nobel Prize in 1957.

His conviction also cost him friendships as he turned away from mass movements and pursued his own path. It was a cost he was prepared to bear. As he would write in The Fall in 1956, “How could sincerity be a condition of friendship? A liking for the truth at all costs is a passion that spares nothing and that nothing can withstand.”

After the wind, of course, Camus had many more loves, and many lovers. A few of them appear above, along with Camus’ daughter Catherine and son Jean to discuss the great themes of his work in three chapters: the Absurd, Revolt, and Happiness. With discussion and excerpts—read by narrator Brian Cox—from Camus’ work, the documentary traces his life from birth and a difficult childhood in French Algeria, to his daily editorials for Combat during the French Resistance, his turn against Communism and decision to live in near-exile in the ‘50s, and his premature death in a car accident in 1960 at the age of 47. All in all, the documentary leaves us with the impression of Camus as a magnetic individual, and a deeply principled one, who held true to the words quoted from his Nobel acceptance speech early in the film about the writer’s task, which is always, he said, “rooted in two commitments… the refusal to lie about what one knows, and resistance to oppression.”

Find more thought-provoking films in our collection, 285 Free Documentaries Online.

Related Content:

Hear Albert Camus Deliver His Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (1957)

Albert Camus Wins the Nobel Prize & Sends a Letter of Gratitude to His Elementary School Teacher (1957)

Albert Camus Writes a Friendly Letter to Jean-Paul Sartre Before Their Personal and Philosophical Rift

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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Comments (7)
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  • Tracy Baxter says:

    How wonderful to find this here. Thanks for posting the link, Open Culture.

  • Emmanuel says:

    Now that’s a lame article, taking a quote from a dense book, and from one of its character in it, and making it the author’s philosophical opinion. Way to go, bravo! Disgusting

  • tony.09 says:

    The link is broken my friend. I’m intrigued to watch but the old barrier has spoken.

  • suvashis maitra says:

    I like openculture

  • Maciej Kaluza says:

    I would love to add my language (Polish) translation and subtitles to this movie and share a link to it in Polish Albert Camus Society webpage – Can You perhaps help me and say whether such activity is possible? It would certainly find many viewres among my students.

  • Lizzie Glover says:

    Is is possible to find an english version of this incredible speech? I keep having to backtrack and listen again to the profound thoughts and words…. I NEED THE WRITTEN piece to be able to absorb and wonder at! Marvellous man – and such a writer!

  • Daniel Remy says:

    Your post reflects the Philosopher, Writer, and Playwright I consider to share my soul and life beliefs. Albert Camus was Unique in the last century and perhaps in all the history of philosophy and literature. At a desperate point in my life when I lost my lifelong wife and love of 41 years to a stroke, I had nothing left worth living for and indeed short of direct action lived in a manner sure to destroy my life. I was truly in “Huis Clos” of Sartre, except alone for eternity.

    In struggling to find meaning, I went back to Sisyphus with my overwhelming stone that I wanted to crush me. For two years, I read everything Camus wrote and said in his notebooks and I was led to one conclusion that I call “Camus Choice”, to Live or to Commit Suicide, the only FREE choice all of us must make when we face Total ABSURDITY and the REALITIES OF LIFE’S PAIN.

    I CHOSE to live and I am still Living life Humanely using all of my Intellectual Curiosity in Physics, Economics, Computer Science, and having lived a full life to give to my fellow man who is also walking the difficult courageous path TO LIVE.

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