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Burned Out: Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno

Posted by Charles Reece, July 31, 2010 09:47pm | Post a Comment
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno poster

There's not a lot to this documentary unless you're a huge fan of Henri-Georges Clouzot ... or if an hour's worth of leering at Romy Schneider is your thing. Either one of those makes this the best movie of the summer so far for me. Schneider suggests the essence of Doris Day as a sordid fetish object, kind of the European Tuesday Weld. She plays Odette, the much younger wife to Serge Raggiani's possessive husband, Marcel, in Clouzot's unfinished L'Enfer. As co-directors Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea tell it in their doc, so much Hollywood money was thrown at the perfectionist director that it resulted in too much planning and constant revisions to ever reach completion. And because Clouzot was one the great authoritarians of cinema, he tended to treat his actors like building material for the realization of his storyboards. Raggiani had had enough abuse and quit during the middle of shooting. Clouzot tried to replace him, but suffered a heart attack, leaving the film one of cinephilia's fantasized masterpieces. This doc is really just an excuse to show the great footage that had been lying dormant for over 40 years.

Marcel is pathologically jealous, imagining Odette in various infidelities. Inspired by Fellini's recently released , Clouzot wanted to push the oneiric qualities of cinema even further in depicting his character's delirium. He hired a group of celebrated cinematographers to create a series of visual experiments, mostly focusing on Schneider. The results are amazing and can only make one consider the negative impact of CGI on film aesthetics. Inception or this:

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