Blu-Ray Review: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno

The history of cinema is littered with those ‘what if?’ moments. The biggest shock of this decade so far is Terry Gilliam finally finishing The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (or maybe the fact someonone was prepared to give him the money to do so). Sadly, Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage’s Superman Lives will never see the light of day. Some of the greats left projects unfinished. We will never know what Hitchcock’s ultra-violent and psycho-sexual Kaleidoscope would have been like, but at least Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind will finally be finished one day.

Henri-Georges Clouzot was undoubtedly one of the greatest French film-makers of his generation. The director of Les Diaboliques and Wages of Fear seemed to have the world at his feet when he decided to make Inferno. Columbia Pictures certainly thought so, giving him an unlimited budget. Despite casting Romy Schneider and Serge Reggiani as the leads, employing a huge crew and having no deadlines, the shoot was beset by problems. These culminated in the Reggiani walking out and Clouzot himself suffering from a heart attack, before it was eventually scrapped altogether.

After a chance encounter with his widow in a lift, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea went through 15 hours of film to create a work of cinema which is part documentary, part highlights reel. Using interviews with cast and crew to document the on-set shenanigans, they paint a picture of what might have been if Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno had ever wrapped. It was a tale of a jealous husband whose possessiveness drives him to the edge. Often derided by his peers for playing safe, Clouzot decided to experiment on Inferno. Some of the footage is absolutely mind-blowing. However, famously difficult, he drove his actors to the edge. We’ll never know just how it would have eventually turned out but Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno is a fascinating insight into the process.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno
  • They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno
  • Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg
  • Interview with Serge Bromberg
  • Stills gallery
  • Original trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno is released on Blu-Ray by Arrow Academy on 5 February.

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