One of the great, unfinished works in film history, Inferno, by Henri-Georges Clouzot was an audaciously experimental film with a virtually unlimited budget that was stopped only three weeks into production. Working closely with Clouzot’s widow, Inès, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea reconstruct Clouzot’s original vision, filling and explaining the gaps with new interviews, re-enactments and Clouzot’s own notes and storyboards, delivering an in-depth look at the masterpiece that might have been.
In 1964, director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique, The Raven, The Wages of Fear, The Picasso Mystery) chose Romy Schneider, age 26, and Serge Reggiani, 42, to star in L’enfer (Inferno), an enigmatic and original project with an unlimited budget. Reggiani was to play Marcel Prieur, the manager of a modest hotel in provincial France who becomes possessed by the demons of jealousy. Intended to be a cinematic “event” upon its release, three weeks after shooting began on Inferno, things took a turn for the worse. The project was stopped, and the images, which were said to be “incredible”, would remain unseen…
Until now. Working closely with Clouzot’s widow, Inès, Serge Bromberg reconstructs Clouzot’s original vision. Midway between documentary and narrative, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno unveils, for the first time in nearly half a century, these luminous visions. It delivers an in-depth look at the masterpiece that might have been and explores the unnerving parallels between an artist and his work, featuring the original astonishing color expressionism that Clouzot captured on celluloid, a visual exploration of the director’s own anxiety.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno is available on 35mm and Blu-ray.
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“That lost footage, a major focus of the documentary, turns out to be as singular as everyone hoped it would. This is especially true of remarkably sensual sequences that showcase Schneider, images that are as flabbergasting in widescreen 35-millimeter as their reputation promised . . . View the wreckage and marvel at what might have been.”
– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The images that have made it into Mr. Bromberg’s and Ms. Medrea’s documentary are tantalizing and frequently beautiful, if sometimes bizarre. Some of the most compelling are the relatively realistic shots of people grouped in outdoor settings, reminders of Clouzot’s gift for clear, fluid, emotionally resonant composition. ”
– The New York Times
“Brigitte Bardot called him “a negative being, for ever at odds with himself and the world around him”. Another actor described him as “an interfering man who wanted every actor under his control”. The man they are both describing is Henri-Georges Clouzot, one of France’s greatest film directors, whose work plumbed the depths of misanthropy, paranoia and revenge so unremittingly that it was hard not to believe he was exploring his own psyche in public.”
– The Guardian