It's the summer of 1964, and director Henri-Georges Clouzot (56 years old) is in the middle of a major mess. The movie he is shooting, L'Enfer, has lost one of its two main actors, Serge Reggiani; the summer heat is unbearable; the lake that is at the center of his story is about to get drained; and his crew is suffering from Clouzot's lack of direction and unending reshoots. Clouzot, however, does not stop the production. He has all the money he needs and the burning desire to make the greatest movie ever. Behind him are two huge successes, The Wages of Fear and Diabolique; in the future, he can only see the realization of L'Enfer, a movie about the hellish mind of a jealous, wife-mad man. He decides to shoot a sexy scene: Two women, Dany Carrel and Romy Schneider (the wife of the jealous man—Reggiani), are on a small boat. The hand of one woman (Carrel) is fondling the breasts of the other woman (Schneider). They kiss. They have blue lips. The boat is also blue. Two men are watching the lusty women. One of them is wearing blood-red swimming trunks. Schneider's knee rises up in pleasure. Sunlight, water, flesh, camera, lights, action—Clouzot has a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. He survives, but his film does not.

Many of the fragments from this stunning failure appear in a documentary, Henri- Georges Clouzot's Inferno, by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea. The doc connects the fragments of the film (and also test footage) with interviews of people who witnessed firsthand the collapse of the project. Some of the fragments are silly (the train rushing toward a naked Schneider); others are wonderfully weird (Schneider having sex with a Slinky—it kisses her breasts and then slinks down to you-know-where). By the end of the doc, one is convinced that L'Enfer was doomed from the very beginning. And it wasn't too much money or freedom—or the heart attack—that killed it, but an artist who overestimated his own talent. Clouzot was a great director but not a genius. recommended

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