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Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno [Blu-ray]
(Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea, 2009)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: France 2 Cinéma
Video: Flicker Alley
Region: A-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,960,504,712 bytes
Feature Size: 15,748,927,488 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.68 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 26th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH) - non-removable
• Director's Introduction by Serge Bromberg (8:57 in 480i)
• They Saw Inferno (59:47 in 1080P)
• Image Gallery (50+ images)
2nd disc NTSC - Region FREE - DVD with Feature and Bromberg introduction
Description: Part original, part documentary and part reconstruction, HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOTS INFERNO tells the emotional story of the ill-fated film project L'ENFER, an enigmatic and original film about a hotel manager who becomes possessed by the demons of jealousy.
One of the great, unfinished works in film history, Inferno, by Henri-Georges Clouzot was an audaciously experimental film with a virtually unlimited budget that was stopped only three weeks into production. Working closely with Clouzot's widow, Inès, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea reconstructs Clouzot's original vision, filling and explaining the gaps with new interviews, re-enactments and Clouzot's own notes and storyboards, delivering an in-depth look at the masterpiece that might have been.
Thankfully, the long-unseen L’Enfer footage delivers. Shots from the narrative proper, in stark black-and-white, look typically gorgeous—albeit not as gorgeous as the 26-year-old Schneider, a middling actress who was nonetheless a stunning camera study, perhaps nowhere more so than in this unfinished project. But the primary reason to see Inferno (and the only real justification for its existence, frankly) is Clouzot’s amazing experiments with superimposed imagery, which look almost proto-Greenaway in their hallucinatory visual fervor. As Bromberg noted (though again, only in the Q&A, not in the damn film!), these remarkable shots, which go on for up to a minute or even longer, would likely have been edited to a few seconds in the movie itself, and hence come across here as more avant-garde than Clouzot may have intended. But I could happily have spent 90 minutes watching tiny pinpricks of light dancing in carnival-midway circles around Romy Schneider’s irises.Excerpt from Mike D-Angelo at Not Coming to a Theater Near You located HERE
Clouzot's perfectionism exacted a heavy toll on all involved. His actors were daunted by his demands, though they delivered extraordinary performances. Crew members complained of frequently being woken at 2am when the insomniac director had another idea. Such was the intensity of the operation that it was probably always doomed, but the story of it is fabulously romantic and has clearly had a profound effect on the makers of this film, too. At times, if one did not know better, one would expect the documentary nature of this film to dissolve, to melt into fiction itself, just as Clouzot's vision threatens to brim over into reality. Essential viewing for anyone who is or would like to be involved in making films, this is also a heady experience for the general viewer, highly educational and a sensual delight.Excerpt from Jennie Kermode at Eye For Film located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Combining archive footage (mostly black and white) with modern interviews and some redone scenes (Bérénice Bejo and Jacques Gamblin) in color - Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno is a fascinating ride of an unfinished project that makes one anxious about its, long past, potential. Flicker Alley's Blu-ray - their first - is modest on the technical front with the feature taking up only about 15 Gig on the single-layered disc - with a lowish bitrate. However, the image quality appears quite strong for both 'older and newer' with the latter looking to have been shot in HD. Colors of the past scenes are strong - notably Romy Schneider and Dany Carrel blue lipstick, the water and some surreal effects. Contrast in the black and white segments (often stills) is equaling pleasing. Much of the older footage is, predictably, softer but some is surprising in its impressiveness. This is less about pristine visuals and more about the content and I think the 1080P transfer supports the film very well. I don't have any strong complaints.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
A standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track that seems to work well enough. There is some chilling music and scenario tension created by the audio that might have benefited from lossless - but I guess we'll never know. Separation is modest and mostly unnecessary as the film is a narrative discussion - so lack of an uncompressed track is not that big of a deal. The English subtitles are mandatory and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region A-locked.
Supplements include a 9-minute Introduction by Serge Bromberg and an hour-long 'Making of...' or at least has elements of a 'making of...' entitled They Saw Inferno in HD. It is quite interesting with some never-before-seen footage from the unfinished film and it makes for good viewing. It is like an extension of the feature talking a lot about Clouzot's demands for precision in certain areas - both it and the Intro are in French with forced English subtitles. There is a pleasant Image gallery with over 50 stills - mostly in color - from the incomplete shoot. Flicker Alley have added a 2nd disc NTSC - Region FREE - DVD with the Feature and Bromberg introduction. Good stuff.
May 18th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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