Presuming that you have not yet seen it, here is a description.
Henri-Georges was a remarkable filmmaker. Though contemporary with those normally tagged new wave, he was interested not in ideas but the effectiveness of cinema. His special talent was internal perturbations of reality. After a long period of silence, he embarked on his most ambitious project: a film about a jealous man, showing his torture through practically achieved cinematic effects.
He got a huge budget from Hollywood and lavished it on the film, not on sets, costumes, actors. Much was shot, and then the thing unraveled, largely because of the filmmaker's own obsessions. Production halted.
Later, in 2009, this film was made about the making of the previous one, weaving the movie and the making of the movie together. The format is superficially simple: we have seated interviews with people who were involved, while relevant footage runs behind them. We see much of that footage without the original sound, though some slight, small effects have been added. Most of the footage are strange optical experiments. Some is the action in "reality." We also, separately, have two contemporary actors reading the lines from the shooting script so at least we know the story such as it is.
The result is remarkable. As collaborators, one after the other, testify to the growing madness of Clouzot, or apparent madness. Or perhaps genius. It is effective as a documentary, perhaps unique in its form. It merges fiction and non-fiction, story on story, folded so that it matters. The main actor walks off, the filmmaker has a heart attack, the lake on which filming occurs literally disappears. Trains come. Anxieties mount as loves and the obsession to create clash.
We wonder about projects started but unseen from Welles, Hopper, Kurosawa. Like unimagined dreams we might reach, they perhaps have more power without us encountering them. Frankly, I never heard of this failed project before. I am grateful to have encountered it now, in this way.
Unfortunately, you may find the optical effects strange, dated. They all are "real" in the sense of being generated according to physical laws and properties. These days, we normally denote the unreal by effects done virtually and supposedly unconstrained by reality. So the shock is reverse: the film we are examining (in black and white) is the fiction, while the madness within that film (in color) is real.
"You have to see the madness through," is the last line of this. Clouzot could not. Let's hope you, dear reader, do.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
13 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?