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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