October 7, 2009
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, 2009
A reconstruction of Henri-Georges Clouzot's aborted film project, Inferno assembled from found (or more accurately, negotiated) footage, interviews with film crew and on-set observers, and script reading by actors Jacques Gamblin and Bérénice Bejo in the roles of Odette and Marcel, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea's Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno loosely recalls José Luis Guerín's cinema in exploring the intersection between fiction and non-fiction, reality and memory. Re-contextualizing the reality of the captured footage with first-hand accounts of the film shoot, Bromberg and Medrea similarly illustrate the amorphous bounds between the real image and its projection. In one sequence, a shot of lead actor Serge Reggiani running across a bridge, appearing visibly distressed after witnessing his wife, Odette (Romy Schneider) water skiing with lothario Martineau (Jean-Claude Bercq) is framed against interviews revealing his escalating animosity with the ever-demanding Clouzot that led to the filmmaker's perverse attempts to reassert his authority by imposing multiple takes of the physically grueling scene on an already ailing Reggiani. In another scene, comments on Clouzot's anxiety and insomnia that contributed to Clouzot's heart attack that would ultimately derail the project is juxtaposed against found footage of the director taking extended close-up shots of sexy, twenty-something actresses Schneider and Dany Carrel in bathing suits for a provocative dream sequence, wryly suggesting a more visceral reason for fifty-something Clouzot's distress. By incorporating Clouzot's shot technical experiments featuring Schneider that were to be used as a basis for dream sequences - but were not intended to be seen in their entirety in the final cut - Bromberg and Medrea cleverly introduce another dimension of "truth" between film image and memory that, like the deconstructed found film in Guerín's Tren de sombras, reflect on the role of cinema as conjurer of images, revealing lost phantoms that exist only in the frames between the visible.