Began in 1964, l'Enfer had an unlimited budget, an all star cast, and Clouzot as a director obsessed with creating a new visual language for cinema. After scores of screen tests and three weeks of location shooting the film was never completed, and the 185 reels of film produced were left abandoned for decades. The present release is a documentary that tells the story of the film that never was, and mixes interviews with the original crew with a montage of Clouzot's 35mm rushes.
The story line of the intended is film was never going to change the course of cinema history, but the visual treatment may have, as the quite extraordinary sequence of experiments with colour and sound shows. The documentary's reconstruction of the film, occasionally adding sound to the rushes, and recreating key dialogue with actors reading the original script, is subtle and well judged, leaving the shimmering found film footage to take centre stage.
Further information from BFI Southbank: http://bit.ly/8MbTef