The dance of the mad it’s a movie dramatic French of 2021 directed and starring Melanié Laurent and based on the novel of the same name by Victory More. The distribution of the Italian version is by Amazon prime video.

Plot of the dance of the mad

It is 1885 ea Paris the psychiatric hospital of the Pitiè Salpêtrière welcomes every year more and more young women who are abandoned or – worse – disowned by their own families. The reasons that lead fathers or husbands to lock up girls inside the Salpêtrière are varied, but often mental illness is very far from being the cause.

Eugenie she is a young revolutionary from a good family who despite herself hides a profound secret: she is able to communicate with the dead. When Eugenie talks to the deceased about her it is as if she is being seized by real crises that annihilate her and leave her with ringing in her ears and severe headaches.

The only one who knows Eugenie’s secret is her brother Theophile, thanks to whom she sometimes manages to frequent literary circles and to go to political meetings.

One evening, Eugenie is caught by one of her “crisis”While he is in the room with his grandmother and makes the mistake of telling her the truth about his gift. For Eugenie, that confession marks a point of no return. It is the beginning of the end.

The next day, her father, with an excuse, takes her to the Salpêtrière, condemning her to the monstrous therapies of the terrible Doctor Charcot. Hydrotherapy, bloodletting, isolation are just some of the things that poor Eugenie has to undergo inside the hospital. Monstrous treatments that would bend even the most robust minds of her.

Inside the asylum Eugenie meets:

  • Louise, a girl from the people who was locked up because she rebelled against the violence she suffered in her family;
  • Therese who has been living in the Salpêtrière for over twenty years and is also a little mother to girls;
  • the head of the room Genevieve that, although she is convinced of the clarifying power of science, she will have various opportunities to change her mind throughout history.

The title The dance of the mad

The title the dance of the mad is taken from the name of the masked party that is celebrated every year in the hospital of the Pitiè Salpêtrière and to which the Parisian créme is hosted. The day of the dance is the only one in which the hospital opens its doors to the outside world which on that occasion can make fun of the young women locked up because they are considered crazy.

Curiosities about the Madness Ball

The film and the book The dance of the mad they tell an invented story, that of Eugenie, but many are the real elements. La Pitiè Salpêtrière is a hospital located in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris which at the end of the 19th century was in effect a female psychiatric hospital.

Also The dance of the mad it was really kept and the guests, the Parisian elite, took part in it mostly eager to witness gruesome scenes, while the girls locked up in the structure could enjoy for one evening the lightness of a party and the company of other people.

The dance took the name of the dance of the mad because it was so called by the Parisian newspapers of the time. In order to be able to speak of it as something uncomfortable and rough.

Doctor Charcot also really existed and was one of the promoters of a school of thought that treated hysteria through hypnosis, as we also see in the film in some powerful scenes in which Louise is hypnotized. It was he who promoted the initiative of the dance of the mad convinced of the beneficial effects of the same. Furthermore, Charcot himself was also Freud’s teacher.


Il dance of the mad has a narrative feminine and feminist because it shows us through the eyes of Eugenie e Genevieve the reality of 1885 Paris and the psychiatric hospital. The two women represent the two opposing sides lined up, yet, in an attempt to save themselves, they will be able to find a point of contact in the common enemy: the men. Be they fathers, brothers or husbands. They are the ones who decide for the life of They women, whom they regard as a trivial object. Even going so far as to lock them up forever.


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