“HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO”
An Unfinished Masterpiece
In 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot, the acclaimed director of thriller masterpieces “Les Diaboliques” and “Wages of Fear”, began work on his most ambitious film yet, “L’Enfer” (“Inferno”). The film is set in a beautiful lakeside resort in the Auvergne region of France and was to be a sun scorched elucidation on the dark depths of jealousy starring Romy Schneider as the harassed wife of a controlling hotel manager (Serge Reggiani). However, even with huge expectations, major studio backing and an unlimited budget, after three weeks the production, it all collapsed under the weight of arguments, technical complications and illness.
This new and award-winning documentary by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea present the film’s incredible expressionistic original rushes, screen tests, and on-location footage, reconstructs Clouzot’s original vision, and shows what happened to the ill-fated endeavor through interviews, dramatizations of un-filmed scenes, and Clouzot’s own notes.
This 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 as well as explaining the gaps with new interviews, re-enactments and Clouzot’s own notes and storyboards and we get to see what the film might have been.
Shots from the narrative proper, in stark black-and-white, look typically gorgeous, the primary reason to see “Inferno” is Clouzot’s amazing experiments with superimposed imagery.
Clouzot’s perfectionism weighed on all involved. His actors were daunted by his demands, though they delivered extraordinary performances. Crewmembers complained of frequently being woken at 2 AM when the c director had another idea. The film was probably always doomed, but the story of it is romantic and addictive.
The documentary combines archive footage (mostly black and white) with modern interviews and some redone scenes in color. Clouzot’s script is built around the obsessive jealousy of Marcel, a middle-aged, chisel-featured man married to a much younger and beautiful flirtatious woman. The main goal of the filmmaker was to try to visually render feelings of anxiety and neurosis. If nothing else, from the many clips of never before seen footage the documentary shares, it appears he would’ve succeeded on that point remarkably well.
The footage of the film itself is brilliantly composed and framed and the standout sections are the hours of tests (shot in both black & white and color) for the delusions Marcel has during his struggle with his jealousy. Playing with light, water and “kinetic art”, Clouzot devised some stunning visual experiments and captured them on film.
SPECIAL FEATURES include:
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
* Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
* Optional English subtitles
* Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno
* They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno
* Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg
* Interview with Serge Bromberg
* Stills gallery
* Original trailer
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau