The Lady of the Camellias (1981 film)

The Lady of the Camellias (French: La Dame aux camélias, Italian: La storia vera della signora dalle camelie) is a 1981 French-Italian drama film directed by Mauro Bolognini and starring Isabelle Huppert.[1] It tells the actual story of Alphonsine Plessis, who became a famous courtesan in Paris and the inspiration for the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, which has in turn become the source for many plays, operas, ballets, and films.

The Lady of the Camellias
DVD cover
Directed byMauro Bolognini
Produced byManolo Bolognini
Margaret Ménégoz
Written byAlexandre Dumas fils
Jean Aurenche
Vladimir Salomonovitch Pozner
StarringIsabelle Huppert
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyEnnio Guarnieri
Edited byNino Baragli
Release date
  • 11 March 1981 (1981-03-11)
Running time
115 minutes


Alphonsine, growing up motherless in absolute poverty, goes alone to Paris and finds work as a seamstress. In the evening most of the girls she works with are whores but one is a cloakroom attendant at the opera house and takes her there to help. Seeing high society on display fills her with the desire to join their world.

Illiterate, her only asset being her body, she soon becomes the mistress of a young nobleman. From him she passes to a wealthy old aristocrat and then elopes to England with the Count de Perregaux, who marries her there. Though he makes her a Countess and gives her a taste for opium, he finds matrimony is not for him and leaves her free to live her own life. Never short of admirers, she becomes one of the most famous courtesans in Paris, attracting even Franz Liszt.

Among many struck by her fame and charm is a young writer Alexandre Dumas, fils, son of the illustrious writer Alexandre Dumas, père. For a while he persuades her to stay with him in the country, in the hope it will assuage her tuberculosis and curb her wild spending. But she wants to go out as she has lived and, returning to her Parisian world, dies in 1847 at age 23, leaving behind massive debt. Alexandre turns her story into a novel, which is a great success.


See also


  1. "NY Times: The Lady of the Camellias". NY Times. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
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