Fate favors some films. A stalled elevator threw together noted film restorer Serge Bromberg and Inès Clouzot, widow of director Henri-Georges Clouzot. In the course of two stranded hours, a discussion of Clouzot’s unfinished film, Inferno, inevitably arose. Subsequently, Inés Clouzot agreed to give Bromberg access to the surviving 13 hours of film. This stunning footage becomes the backbone of the resulting documentary, which offers a fascinating, partial reconstruction of Inferno while chronicling the production’s disintegration. The year was 1964. Clouzot, maker of suspense thrillers Diabolique and The Wages of Fear, had written the story of a jealous husband and his mental breakdown. He’d assembled an extraordinary cast and crew, including Serge Reggiani and Romy Schneider as his leads. After seeing rushes of his innovative visual experiments with lighting, lenses and makeup, his financial backers had given him an unlimited budget. What went wrong? In interviews with surviving cast and crew a few clues emerge. For a meticulous, detail-obsessed filmmaker like Clouzot, the unlimited budget was a curse as much as a boon. The insomniac director drove his cast and crew to the point of exhaustion, particularly lead actor Reggiani. Most crucially, the director’s grandiose ambitions sabotaged the film. Production slowed to a crawl as Clouzot lost himself in Op Art abstractions and psychedelic visuals that anticipate later films. Would the film have been the masterpiece he intended? It’s a question that will remain forever unanswered. The documentary does a superb job of tantalizing us with what might have been. —Monica Nolan
I finally watched it - the very first film I added to my "watch list" on mubi (well, the auteurs back then) about 3 years ago! I feel accomplished somehow... L'Enfer looked like it could have been Clouzot's Vertigo! I wish I could have seen it!
I enjoyed it overall but this film feels like a missed opportunity. Seeing the work Clouzot completed was fascinating and the effects tests were beautiful, but this great source material was not well integrated and the documentary itself felt stodgy and uncinematic. Some sections of the film were even conducted in a cheap-looking TV studio. As a tribute to Clouzot's visual brilliance this could have been a lot more.
A retrospective is on at MoMA through Christmas Eve and at the Harvard Film Archive through December 18.
On Friday, Inception pretty much sucked all the air out of the media bubble. So, to catch up with what's being said about the other films
I admit that I initially grabbed a copy of Clérambard (1969) out of a not-wholly pure interest in actress Dany Carrel, an interesting presence
This week I present a selection, below, of more of my favorite posters from the International Film Festival Rotterdam where the walls of
With the fragments of Henri-Georges Clouzot's never-completed L'enfer (1964) finally gathered together and released as part of the making-of
“Do you take advantage of the new freedoms?” asks the sensualist next door in the Coens’ A Serious Man. Henri-Georges Clouzot did. Inflamed
Where to begin. Perhaps with Scott Foundas's introduction to "Serge Bromberg, who began fervently collecting films at age nine, and
The Telluride Film Festival, opening tomorrow and running through Labor Day, has unveiled the lineup for this year's 36th edition
For those of you not familiar with Henri-Georges Clouzot, he was one of those most famous pre-new wave directors, most famous for ‘Wages of Fear’ (which was later remade by William Friedken as ‘Sorcerer’… read review