(aka "The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting" )

 

directed by Raul Ruiz
France 1979

 

Raul Ruiz's The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting is not so much a loose adaptation of Pierre Klossowski's novel The Baphomet so much as creatively inspired by it. The novel depicts the "breaths" of executed Knights Templar gathering every year on the anniversary of the execution of their Grand Master to commit the perverse sexual and "pagan" acts (it is conjectured that the word "Baphomet" was not a reference to the Egyptian god but a corruption of the name Muhammad) which they were tortured into falsely confessing. Ruiz's film details a series of six paintings through the camera POV of a narrator as The Collector (Jean Rougeul, Fellini's 8 1/2) suggests that a missing seventh painting holds the key to a scandal that caused the painter to flee the country after their exhibition. He suggests the other diverse paintings allude to the content of the missing one and attempts to divine the meaning from the paintings by recreating them three dimensionally with living subjects (a series of tableaux vivants featuring an early appearance by French superstar Jean Reno among them). Sacha Vierny's camera glides among the paintings and the live representations in a manner reminiscent of his coverage of similar tableaux vivants in Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad although Ruiz film has a narrator eager to extract meaning rather than obfuscate it).

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: April 4th, 1979

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DVD Review: Blaq Out/Facets Video - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Blaq Out/Facets Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:02:58 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
Subtitles English, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Blaq Out/Facets Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Feature film: THE SUSPENDED VOCATION (1:35:45)
• Raul Ruiz: From Chile to Klossowski (29:56)

DVD Release Date: September 26th, 2006
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

Comments:

Blaq Out is becoming an impressive label. In R2, they contributed an extremely English-friendly French DVD of Bruno Dumont's TWENTYNINE PALMS with multilingual menus ages before Wellspring's less impressive R1 release and have recently released an R2 French DVD of Marguerite Duras' NATHALIE GRANGER. This R1 release from Facets features menus in English, French, and Spanish and is likely a port of the French Blaq Out set (which also has English subtitles).

Despite the usual PAL-NTSC transfer issues, this presentation of Ruiz's film is infinitely superior to the previously available fuzzy, hazy, and hard-to-find (outside of university library media catalogs), and over-priced Facets Video VHS release. There is an inherent softness to the image resulting from the filters cinematographer Sacha Vierny (Resnais' LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD) used to soften the image both to evoke the feel of the paintings as well as to make the late seventies film stock and lenses emulate the look of earlier films (including MARIENBAD to which this film owes some stylistic debt). Overall, the film is in great shape for a project shot for television.

Also included on the DVD is another television film, the feature-length THE SUSPENDED VOCATION based on another Klossowski novel and, like HYPOTHESIS, its cast features French cinema talent from both in front of the camera (Edith Scob and HYPOTHESIS' Jean Rougeul) and behind (Rivette collaborator and Cahiers du Cinema writer Pascal Bonitzer). A thirty-minute interview with director Ruiz details his influences and also discusses his other films (available in two other DVDs from Blaq Out).

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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Screencap from The Suspended Vocation

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Blaq Out/Facets Video

Region 0 - NTSC





 

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