Documentaries rarely come more fascinating than this. Clouzot's lost masterpiece, abandoned when the director suffered a heart attack during the interminable shooting of it. The interviews with Catherine Allégret, Costa Gavras and other participants in Clouzot's project are informative, particularly on the subject of the experimental sound track and the innovations in use of film stock that turned water red. But it is the human drama, not the technological wizardry that fascinates here. Clouzot simply took on too much: writing, directing and producing, as well as overseeing all aspects of casting, music, art direction... The American studio gave him too much money and power for this project, and this almost destroyed him.
Jacques Gamblin and Bérénice Bejo take over the parts Reggiani and Schneider played, and they flesh out the story well enough. (See Cluzet and Béart in Chabrol's remake for a really great experience.) I went to see the footage with Romy Schneider, and I wasn't disappointed. She was the most beautiful of European actresses, and Clouzot's camera adores her. Romy smoking, Romy with a blue tongue, Romy trussed naked on a train track, Romy being followed through the town by Reggiani. Rest assured, I will be getting the DVD.
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