Nelly Kaplan  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Nelly Kaplan (11 April 1931 – 12 November 2020) was an Argentine-born French writer who focused on the arts, film, and filmmakers. She is best-known for her film A Very Curious Girl (1969), the story of an exploited young woman (Marie) who begins charging money for her sexual favors, disrupting the smug social fabric of a small French village.



She studied economics at the University of Buenos Aires. Passionate about cinema, she abruptly put her studies on hold to go to Paris to represent the new Argentine film archive at an international convention and later became a correspondent for different Argentine newspapers. She met Abel Gance in 1954, who gave her the opportunity to work on the film La tour de Nesle.

She became Gance's assistant during the film and showed the program Magirama (triple screen) in Polyvision, then, still at Gance's side, she collaborated with him on Austerlitz (1960). He trusted her with the direction of all the second crew's action scenes during the filming of his movie Cyrano and d'Artagnan (Cyrano et d'Artagnan, 1964).

Meanwhile, she published her work about Magirama under the name Le Manifeste d'un art nouveau, with a preface by Philippe Soupault. In 1960, she published a film report entitled Le Sunlight of Austerlitz, through the Plon publishing house.

Beginning in 1961, she directed an entire series of art shorts, which won numerous prizes in various international festivals. Among these shorts were "Gustave Moreau," an analysis of the 19th century symbolist painter; "Rudolphe Bresdin," the engraver; "Dessins et merveilles," on the sketchbooks of Victor Hugo, as well as "Les années 25 ", " La Nouvelle Orangerie " ; "Abel Gance hier et demain ", " A la source, la femme aimée ", titles based on the secret notebooks of the painter André Masson.


Nelly Kaplan was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a Russian-Jewish family. A "neo-surrealist", she was "the only female film maker linked with surrealism". Kaplan left for France at the age of 17. She served as a professor and lecturer at Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques. While Kaplan's films have been marketed as soft-core pornography, her works are often female-centered and approach eroticism from a woman's point of view.

Her films have been shown at numerous international festivals and distributed on every continent. As a member of the SACD, she has taken part in the board of directors as a member of the Cinema Commission on several occasions. Kaplan collaborates regularly on the show "Des Papous dans la Tête," on France Culture. She has assured the chronicle on cinema for 25 years in the magazine Littéraire. Kaplan was Commander of the Arts and Letters, Officer in the National Merite Order, Cavalier of the Legion of Honor, and Academician of the Alphonse Allais Academy.

Nelly Kaplan died of COVID-19 on 12 November 2020 in Geneva.


  • In 1965, under the pen-name of Belen, she published a collection of short stories through the J.J. Pauvert Publishing House. Le réservoir des sens, was a great critical and popular success.
  • In 1967, during the retrospective organized at the Grand Palais for Picasso's 85th birthday, she directed a mid-length feature in color, Le regard Picasso, which won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
  • In 1968, she collaborated with Claude Makovski on the script for the movie La Fiancée du Pirate, which she directed in 1969.
  • In collaboration with Claude Makovski and René Guyonnet, she wrote the adaptation of Papa, les Petits Bateaux, which she filmed during the summer of 1971.
  • In 1972 she published Le Collier de Ptyx, a ciné-roman; and in 1974 Un Manteau de Fou-rire ou les Mémoire d'une Liseuse de Draps (through the J.J. Pauvert Publishing House). The book presented problems with a prudish censure.
  • In 1974, Kaplan co-wrote the script of Claude Makovski's film Il Faut Vivre Dangereusement, which she also produced.
  • In 1976, she wrote with Jean Chapot the script for Néa, which she filmed in Switzerland and Paris in March of that year.
  • In 1979, she co-wrote Charles et Lucie with Jean Chapot and Claude Makovski, which she shot in spring of the same year.
  • In 1980-1982, she co-wrote scripts for several TV movies directed by Jean Chapot, including Un fait d'hiver, Livingstone, and Ce fut un bel été.
  • In 1983, she wrote and directed Abel Gance et son Napoleon. This film was selected for the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, official selection "Un Certain Regard."
  • In 1984 she co-wrote the script for Regard dans un Miroir, directed by Jean Chapot (Grand Prize of the Foundation of France).
  • In 1985 she directed Pattes de Velours, which originated from an original script co-written with Jean Chapot. Pierre Arditi, Michel Bouquet, Bernadette Lafont, Caroline Silhol, and Roger Carrel were the performers.
  • In 1988, a new extended version of her collection Le réservoir des sens was published by the J.J. Pauvert Publishing House.
  • In 1990, she co-wrote the TV movie Les Mouettes with Jean Chapot, who also directed it. It had the highest audience in France for a TV movie.
  • In 1990-1991, she wrote and directed Plaisir d'Amour with Pierre Arditi, Franoise Fabian, Dominique Blance, Heinz Bennent, and Pierre Dux. This movie, whose script was written in collaboration with Jean Chapot, was produced by Claude Makovski through Cythère Films.
  • As a co-writer of the script for Jean Chapot's TV movie Honorin et la Lorelei, they achieved a new record audience level in November 1992. The movie scored 4 nominations at the 7 d'or festival.
  • In 1992, she co-wrote the script for Polly West est de retour with Jean Chapot, who also directed it.
  • In 1993, she co-wrote the fourth installment of the "saga" of Saint Apollonia with Jean Chapot, Honorin et l'Enfant prodigue, directed by Chapot.
  • In 1994, she wrote, at the request of the British Film Institute for their collection BFI Classics, an essay on the film Napoléon by Abel Gance.
  • In 1994 as well, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery of Washington organized a retrospective of all Kaplan's films.
  • In April 1995, a new edition of Réservoir des Sens, followed by La Gardienne du Temps were released through the Castor Astral publishing house.
  • In 1996 she won the Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur.
  • 1997 saw the release of Georges Sebbag's book, Le point sublime: Breton/Rimbaud/Kaplan (Jean-Michel Place). In February of the same year, the Lumière Institute in Lyon dedicated a homage to her, with a screening of her films.
  • At the end of 1997 and beginning of 1998, Kaplan wrote for and with Jean Chapot the script for the TV movie La Petite Fille en Costume Marin, broadcast by France 2.
  • March 1998 saw the publication of her novel Aux Orchidées Sauvages, published by Différence. In November 1998, her novel Un Manteau de Fou Rire was released by Différence.
  • In 1999, the Film Library of Toulouse and the School of Beaux-Arts paid homage to her literary and film repertoire.
  • In February 2000, the Film Library of Lausanne organized a retrospective of her repertoire of films up to that point.
  • In June 2000, the "Cahiers Philippe Soupault No. 3" published a very long interview with Kaplan, as well as different excerpts of her literary and film works.
  • In 2002, her novel Il Fut une Êtrange Comète was published by Castor Astral. In September of that year, the Balzac cinema in Paris held a program entitled "Kaplan dans tous ses états," a festival of her principal films. This festival would be followed by a national broadcast. On the same date, her biography, Nelly Kaplan, portrait of a Pirate, by Denys-Louis Colaux, was published by Dreamland. In December, the University of Paris 8 organized a colloquium around her literary and film work: Nelly Kaplan, le verbe et la lumière. The texts of this colloquium were published by L'Harmattan in June 2003.
  • At the end of 2004, a six DVD set was released by Opening, containing a large number of her film works. (In 2007, this set was re-released under the title Les films de ma Vie/The Films of My Life.)
  • In January 2005 her novel Cuisses de grenouilles was released by Maren Sell, for which Kaplan prepared a film adaptation.
  • In May 2008, the book Ma Cygne, Mon Signe, chronicling her correspondence with Abel Gance, was published, followed by her novel And Pandora Had Two of Them!, publish by Rocher.
  • In May 2009, her correspondence with the writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues, under the title Ecris-moi tes hauts faits et tes crimes, was published by Tallandier.

Books and movies


  • Le Réservoir des Sens, nouvelles, La Jeune Parque, 1966; rééd. J-J.Pauvert, 1988; rééd. augmentée Le Castor Astral, 1995.
  • Le Collier de Ptyx, ciné-roman, J-J.Pauvert, 1971.
  • Mémoires d'une liseuse de draps, roman, J-J.Pauvert, 1974.
  • Aux Orchidées sauvages, roman, La Différence, 1998.
  • Un manteau de fou rire, roman, La Différence, 1998.
  • Ils furent une étrange comète, roman, Le Castor Astral, 2002.
  • Cuisses de Grenouille, roman, Maren Sell Editeurs, 2005
  • Et Pandore en avait deux..! followed by Mon Cygne, mon Signe, Editions du Rocher, 2008
  • Ecris-moi tes hauts faits et tes crimes… Correspondance avec André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Editions du Rocher, 2009

Essays on cinema

  • Manifeste d'un art nouveau: la Polyvision, Caractères, 1955.
  • Le Sunlight d'Austerlitz, journal d'un tournage, Plon, 1960.
  • Napoleon, British Film Institute Classics, 1994.


  • 1969: La Fiancée du pirate (A Very Curious Girl)
  • 1971: Papa les p'tits bateaux
  • 1976: Néa
  • 1979: Charles et Lucie
  • 1980: Un fait d'hiver, Livingstone
  • 1982: Ce fut un bel été
  • 1985: Patte de velours (TV)
  • 1991: Plaisir d'amour

Co-writer of the film Il faut vivre dangereusement, by Claude Makovski, 1974.

Co-writer of Jean Chapot's téléfilms:

  • Livingstone, 1980
  • Un fait d'hiver, 1981
  • La tentation d'Antoine, 1981
  • Ce fut un bel été, 1982
  • Meurtre sans pourboire, 1983
  • Le regard dans le miroir, 1984
  • Le Crépuscule des loups, 1986
  • Les Mouettes, 1989
  • Honorin et la Loreleï, 1991
  • Polly West est de retour, 1993
  • Honorin et l'enfant prodigue, 1994.

Script writer with Jean Chapot pour France 2 of the téléfilm La petite fille en costume marin, 1997.

Collaborated over 22 years to the Magazine Littéraire with a column on film adaptations from books.


  • Antle, Martine. "Dedans et dehors: Le Cas de Nelly Kaplan et d'Abel Gance." Mélusine 23 (2003): 87-95.
  • Béhar, Stella. "L'Ecriture surréaliste de Nelly Kaplan." La Femme s'entête: La Part du féminin dans le surréalisme. Paris, France: Lachenal & Ritter, 1998. 275-289.
  • Calle-Gruber, Mireille. Nelly Kaplan : la verbe et la lumière. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2004.
  • Colaux, Denis-Louis. Grandes machines et spéculations introspectives. Bruxelles: Labor, 2003.
  • Colaux, Denis-Louis. Nelly Kaplan : portrait d'une flibustière. Paris: Dreamland, 2002.
  • Duby, Georges, and Michelle Perrot. History of Women in the West Vol. 5 : Toward a Cultural Identity in the Twentieth Century. Ed. Francois Thebaud. New York: Belknap P, 1994.
  • Elley, Derek. “Hiding it Under a Bushel”, Films and Filming, 20.4 (1974): 22-5
  • Giukin, Lenuta. “Demystification and Webtopia in the Films of Nelly Kaplan.” Cinema Journal 42.3 (2003): 96-113.
  • Greene, Linda. "A Very Curious Girl: Politics of a Feminist Fantasy." Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 6 (March 1975): 13-14.
  • Holmlund, Chris. "The Eyes of Nelly Kaplan." Screen 37.4 (Winter 1996): 351-367.
  • Houston, Beverly. “Néa”, Film Quarterly, 32.3 (1979): 46-9.
  • Johnston, Claire. “Women’s cinema as counter cinema”. Notes on Women’s Cinema. London: Society for Education in Film and Television, 1973. 25; reprinted in Bill Nichols ed., Movies and Methods: an Anthology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975. 210.
  • Kay, Karin. “The Revenge of Pirate Jenny.” Velvet Light Trap 9 (Summer 1973): 46-9.
  • Lejeune, Paula. Le cinéma des femmes. Paris: Atlas Lherminier, 1987.
  • Mandiargues, Andre Pieyre de. “Nelly Kaplan”, Obliques 14-15 (1973), p. 70.
  • Rosen, Marjorie. “Women, Sex and Power”, Millimeter, vol. 4 (January 1976): 36-37.
  • Sebbag, Georges. Le point sublime : André Breton, Arthur Rimbaud, Nelly Kaplan. Paris: Jean-Michel Place, 1997.
  • Vincendeau, Ginette. "Fathers and Daughters in French Cinema: From the 20s to 'La Belle Noiseuse." Women and Film: A Sight and Sound Reader, edited by Pam Cook and Phillip Dodd, Philadelphia, 1993
  • Waldman, Diane. “The Eternal Return of Circe.” Velvet Light Trap, no. 9 (Summer 1973): 49-51.
  • Wells, Gwendolyn. "Deviant Games." L'Esprit Createur 31.4 (Winter 1991): 69-77.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nelly Kaplan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools