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The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1978)
"L'hypothèse du tableau volé" (original title)

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Two narrators, one seen and one unseen, discuss possible connections between a series of paintings. The on-screen narrator walks through three-dimensional reproductions of each painting, ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Rougeul ...
The collector
Chantal Paley ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Jean Raynaud ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Daniel Grimm ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Isidro Romero ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Bernard Daillencourt ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Jean-Damien Thiollier ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Alix Comte ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Christian Broutin ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Guy Bonnafoux ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Tony Rödel ...
Personnage des Tableaux (as Tony Rodel)
Pascal Lambertini ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Jean Narboni ...
Personnage des Tableaux
Vincent Skimenti ...
Personnage des Tableaux (as Vincent Schimenti)
Anne Desbois ...
Personnage des Tableaux


Two narrators, one seen and one unseen, discuss possible connections between a series of paintings. The on-screen narrator walks through three-dimensional reproductions of each painting, featuring real people, sometimes moving, in an effort to explain the series' significance. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

4 April 1979 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Hipótese do Quadro Roubado  »

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User Reviews

22 March 2006 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

There's a blanket term in film criticism, reflexivity. Its an odd word. It denotes something where outside and inside are merged or mixed, where viewer and viewed overlap. And yet the word itself is not reflexive, it stands aloof. While the root comes from reflection, and the direct form would be reflective, the whole thing smacks of an invented concept that sterilizes the user from the phenomenon it denotes.

Its a word that drives me a bit crazy, in part because it is applied to several different types of things that have little to do with one another. The concept as used by the most prominent writers just appears as if it were built into the universe as some by-product of intelligent design, a sort of natural effect like dreaming that writers can reference.

I've tried to repair that by redefining a larger class of effects as "folding," teasing out the various types, and attempting to explain why they were invented and to serve what narrative utility. Without this, you get philosophical notions that are refined away from life; and then artists that quote those refined sugars in art as if they really indicated life.

Like we have here.

I've decided to get into Ruiz in a serious way. I saw his corner of Swann's Way and was impressed. Reader emails have indicated that he shares space with Greenaway, who I admire. So I went with this because it is supposed to be his most abstract and "pure." It is photographed by perhaps the best folded cinematographer who has ever lived.

I admit, it is clever, in a "Saragossa Manuscript" sort of way. We have several levels: us; our disembodied narrator; our on-screen narrator; a collection of actors that in a simple movie would be giving us a story and here do tableaux instead; our painter that is a narrator in seven paintings; and under that a score of narrators-in-life: families, religions and societies in knots.

The idea, the folding, is that these layers merge and shift one into another.

With a little work, you can get the point, and it is a worthwhile one.

But you can do this, all of it, with even more bizarrenesses without draining the blood and breath out of the thing. It is possible to fold all that into life and present us edges of that life, stuff that sweeps us in and gives us the stuff of structured dreams. This is an essay with some artistic vocabulary; it isn't art.

Damn the French for messing us up so. I'm sure Ruiz eventually found his way to judge from what I saw of his Proust. But this. Its worth watching as an exercise, but if you are looking for bits of cinematic bone and flesh from which to construct your being, look elsewhere. This is a cadaver.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

14 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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