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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

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)

Runtime: 1:39:34.000

Disc Size: 24,960,504,712 bytes

Feature Size: 15,748,927,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.68 Mbps

Chapters: 18

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.



The Film:

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.


















Audio :

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.


Extras :

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.



Chabrol did his take on L'Enfer back in 84' and I thought it was magnificent. I get chills just thinking about the potential of Clouzot's take - let alone seeing bits and pieces. Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno is a fascinating documentary with extensive exploration into the unfinished project that adds substantial flavor to the presentation. It is unique with the manner of exporting information - frequently eerie - and that certainly makes it worthy along with the topic that should be enticing enough for film fans. The Flicker Alley Blu-ray does a good job. Being a Clouzot fans is no prerequisite for enjoying this - one of the most interesting documentaries that I have seen this year. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze






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