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The Mystery of Picasso

(Le mystère Picasso)
France 1956. Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot. 78 min. DCP
With: Pablo Picasso

NEW RESTORATION! This extraordinary collaboration between Pablo Picasso and French master of suspense Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Les diaboliques) may be the most startlingly original documentary ever made about a great painter. Awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1956, and declared a national treasure by France in 1984, the film employs some remarkable cinematic innovation. Clouzot and cinematographer Claude Renoir (grandson of Auguste and nephew of Jean) filmed from behind special transparent “canvasses” on which the artist drew with bleed-through inks; Picasso, in effect, is painting directly onto the screen before our very eyes. Twenty original works (most destroyed afterwards) are created in the film; certain sequences use time-lapse to animate the process. Picasso is a fascinating and volatile presence throughout. At one point, he complains that his canvas is too small — and, in a startling technical coup, the film bursts into the wider frame of CinemaScope. “A miracle” (François Truffaut).


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