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L'Enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno

France 2009
produced by
Serge Bromberg, Marianne Lère (executive) for Lobster Films, France 2, Canal+, CinéCinéma
directed by Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea
starring Bérénice Bejo, Jacques Gamblin; archive footage: Romy Schneider, Serge Reggiani, Dany Carrel, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jean-Claude Bercq, Mario David, André Luguet, Maurice Garrel, Catherine Allégret, Barbara Sommers, Maurice Teynac, Henri Virlojeux, Blanchette Brunoy; interviewees: Catherine Allégret, Gilbert Amy, Inès Clouzot, Jacques Douy, Jean-Louis Ducarme, Costa-Gavras, William Lubtchansky, Nguyen Thi Lan, Joël Stein, Bernard Stora; narration by Serge Bromberg
written by Serge Bromberg, music by Bruno Alexiu


review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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By 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot had gathered quite a reputation as a meticulous and effective director, and especially his films Le Salaire de la Peur and Les Diaboliques had also put him on the map internationally. But by 1964 it was also four years since he had made his last movie, La Vérité, and the idea for his next one, L'Enfer, had been gestating inside him for ages ... maybe too long. The film was to be a psychodrama about a man (Serge Reggiani) suspecting his wife (Romy Schneider) of infidelity, and no matter how little evidence he has even hinting that way, he becomes totally obsessive about it.

L'Enfer was to be Clouzot's absolute masterpiece, and he went about it more meticulous than ever before - and the storyboards for the film are impressive already, let alone the footage that was actually shot. But his plans went even further, he wanted to break new ground, audiovisually ... and before long, he grew as obsessive over his film as his lead character over his jealousy. This resulted in endless repetition of shoots, returning to the same scenes again and again, even though they were already announced as "in the can", and wearing his cast and crew out beyond breaking point - and all the while, the cards were absolutely stacked against him, as he was on a tight shooting schedule, some of the locations would become unavailable before long, and while Clouzot's name was big enough to get a very decent budget, money wasn't limitless, either. And then Serge Reggiani left the set for good, allegedly due to some illness, but sources claim he just couldn't or wouldn't take it anymore. Clouzot hastily hired Jean-Louis Trintignant as a replacement, but he left a few days later without shooting a single frame. And then, Clouzot suffered a heart attack - not a fatal one (he actually died no less than 13 years later), but it stopped the shoot for good, and what we might have missed by the film never getting finished is left to guesswork ...


This film is in part a loveletter to filmmaking in general and to Henri-Georges Clouzot's style of making movies in particular (even though it sugarcoats exactly nothing), and in part a piece of "what if"-film history. From the footage available, plus newly shot footage with Bérénice Bejo and Jacques Gamblin in the Schneider and Reggiani roles, this documentary tries to reconstruct at least in small parts what the movie might have looked and sounded like - and what these scenes suggest is it would have been rather great. And that said, the reconstruction is of course lacking and never claims to be perfect. And still, for lovers of vintage cinema, this documentary about a movie that never got finished is pretty much a must-have!


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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