Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
Movie history is littered with the foetus corpses of abandoned projects and unrealised masterworks from Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis to Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, John Waters’ The Confederacy of Dunces and (arguably most tragic of all) Michael Powell’s The Tempest but it’s rare that the ruins are accessible. But then French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, most often noted as ‘the French Hitchcock’, was a rare beast, one whose rampant egomania led him to believe his failures were as noble as his successes – of which there were many (Les Diaboliques, The Wages of Fear, Le Corbeau).
In 1964, Clouzot attempted to make the link between his very traditional type of filmmaking with the surreal and cubist art movements (his previous film had been a documentary about Picasso) and the burgeoning French New Wave with its cheeky laissez faire ingénues Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.
The film, a romantic thriller of obsessive jealousy, was to be called L’Enfer (Inferno) and the story of its pre-production and stillborn demise is a fascinating one. Archivist/directors Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea reassemble the remaining footage to work out what the crazed insomniac Clouzot was up to. Surviving crewmembers fill in the gaps and by the end you wish Inferno had not imploded but exploded across the mid 1960s European film scene.
GFT, Glasgow from Sat 14–Mon 16 Nov and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 27-Mon 30 Nov.