Over the last couple of years, I have been increasingly interested in filmmaking. I don’t really have the drive to make films myself, but I have been more and more fascinated with the stories behind the movies I watch, and with the industry as a whole. So when Arrow Academy sent us Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno for review, I was immediately intrigued.
This film takes a look at an unfinished project from a fairly well known French director who is most widely known for Les Diaboliques. I am largely unfamiliar with his work (and with French cinema itself), so is this release good for someone like me? Or do you need more experience with Clouzot to find value here? Let’s take a look and find out.
Henri-Georges Clouzot was quite famous in his time for his works on The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques, he enjoyed his status in the company of other very prominent figures for his time. In the 1960’s, he got what almost amounts to a blank check for his new project, L’enferm, or Inferno. This was to be a departure from his normal style and was looking to be very ambitious. That is until several of the cast and Clouzot himself suffered a heart attack. This film was never finished and it was considered a doomed project.
This film sets out to explore more what Inferno what would have been, and serve as a documentary on both Clouzot and this unfinished project.
Inferno was to be a story of a young couple, Marcel and his beautiful wife Odette. Marcel was beginning to suspect that Odette was unfaithful to him. The film centered on his downward spiral into his obsession with her infidelity. Clouzot was trying a lot of interesting camera and lighting tricks to play on this madness, including a big color shift between scenes of reality vs paranoia.
Sadly, since the film was never finished, we won’t ever get to see exactly what Clouzot envisioned, and even with the footage that exists there is no audio. We do have notes, footage reels, scripts, and testimony of those involved, however. Throughout this film, we hear from some of these people as they remember and discuss different aspects of the filmmaking process.
A large part of this film is a recreation of what Inferno would have been, using these stories and footage reels as a source to work from. This is a particularly interesting inclusion and is quite fascinating in and of itself.
So is this film worthwhile for just anyone to watch, or is it just for ultra-fans of the Clouzot and/or French cinema? Well, that depends.
For me personally, this story is pretty fascinating. I have no vested interest in Clouzot or 60’s French films (although the few that I have seen were great). I do think that I am a bit of an edge case, however. So if you are not actively wanting to hear about a fairly obscure unfinished film, then you are probably not going to miss out by skipping this work. If you do find yourself intrigued by the subject matter, then this is a very well made and informative look that I would definitely recommend.
Considering that the only footage that is available for Inferno is unfinished and comes from less than stellar sources, the footage that we see is similarly a bit rough around the edges. This is to be expected of course. The new footage all looks quite good, as one would expect from Arrow.
In terms of audio quality, this release is not meant to wow. For a documentary style film, the most important aspect is the dialog which is perfectly suitable here. It does feature a Master Audio 5.1 track, and the soundtrack is interesting, so even though it isn’t an edge of your seat listen, it does entertain.
- Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot and Inferno – a twenty minute shorter look at Clouzot by movie critic Lucy Mazdon
- Introduction by Serge Bromberg – this film’s Director gives a short discussion on the film
- They Saw Inferno – more unseen footage from the film with several more interviews with cast and crew
- Interview with Serge Bromberg
- Original Trailer
- Stills Gallery
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno Final Thoughts:
Chances are high that you already know if you are interested in this film or not. If you have any desire to learn more about 60’s French cinema or Clouzot, then this is a no-brainer. If you are one to watch the special features on all of your Blu-ray, then this one might be worth a watch as well, even if you have not idea who this man was. Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno is out now and available from Amazon or other retailors.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.