Imagine a doomed movie; imagine a colossal set and a famous director (Henri-Georges Clouzot), imagine a star cast (Romy Schneider, Serge Reggiani); imagine experimental visions of what could cinema be with the help of electro-acoustic music and kinetic art. We are in 1964. Clouzot starts to film hundreds and hundreds of tests with his endless (Columbia) budget. L’Enfer should have been a dramatic film about jealousy: the story is quite simple; a man, Marcel, is a paranoid and is tremendously jealous of his wife, Odette. He starts to have visions of her cheating on him; provoking him; flirting with everyone.
Clouzot’s brilliant idea, however, was to use colour for the visions and black and white for the reality. The colour shots should have been unnatural, reversed, as if they were shot in negative. On top of that, the music would have been vertiginous, and plastic effects of any kind would abound, making this film belonging to the Nouvelle Vague.
Why using the conditional then? Because Clouzot could never finish his movie. The shooting went more and more into a madness, and the director himself felt in a manic state. He finally had a heart attack that stopped the project for good.
But nowadays, director Serge Bromberg has recuperated the mysterious films (shot in July 1964) and has made a fascinating documentary about the failure of L’Enfer, which is called L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno). The documentary shows many takes from the never-made film, scenes read from the script and testimonies from the technicians.
It reveals a lost project that could have been a stand-out in the history of cinema, because it dealt with artistic effects in a revolutionary way. It could be an inspiration for fashion as well: how striking Romy Schneider’s purple lips are on her blueish face? Blue, purple, green, black: these uncanny colours have taken a while to find their way into the cosmetics world; for many, they are still taboo. The wardrobe is appealing too, mixing classic French style and bizarre Sixties inventions.
Which label is going to offer us a L’Enfer make-up package? We would die to wear such terribly cold hues – and they could kill anyone.
Some screenshots from Serge Bromberg’s L’Enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (1h34), shown in Cannes last year.
p.s.: in the meantime, we choose Missoni burgundy-black lipstick (fall-winter 2010) and Gareth Pugh vintage (fall-winter 2008) blue palette…
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