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Review: Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno

Reconstructing what could have been a classic. Or not.
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  September 16, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars

1009_inferno_main

This autopsy of an unfinished 1964 film by the great French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear) holds fascinations — and frustrations — for the avid franco-cinephile. Influenced by , Clouzot intended to make manifest the thoughts of a jealous husband (Serge Reggiani) by using expressionistic visuals and an experimental sound design. His widow gave documentarians Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea access to 15 cans of filmed scenes (with no sound) plus wardrobe and make-up tests. In addition to clips, there are interviews with surviving crew members, who describe an ambitious auteur surrounded by a dream team of talent but unable to communicate to them his vision. The more garish features of that vision — such as mercurial female lead Romy Schneider seen wearing blue lipstick — are abundant, but the documentary is short on evidence that Inferno would have been a memorable drama and not just another ’60s bum trip.

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