In 1964, director Henri-Georges Clouzot undertook the making of Inferno, an ambitious psychological thriller which promised to be a landmark in the history of French cinema. Serge Reggiani starred as a husband obsessed with the alleged infidelities of his younger wife, embodied by the seductive Romy Schneider. The German born actress was then prepared to give her very best to overcome the too wholesome image associated with her Sissi character.
Paradoxically, the more than comfortable budget that Clouzot benefited from for Inferno, thanks to the participation of the American financing, proved to be detrimental for the project and indirectly caused its abandonment, after a series of episodes that were widely reported by the press at the time.
45 years later, cinema historian Serge Bromberg managed to persuade Clouzot’s estate to grant access to the 185 cans of Inferno’s rushes in order to reconstitute the genesis of this legendary misadventure. His movie, produced with the collaboration of Ruxandra Medrea, carried off the César for Best Documentary in 2010 and other international awards. It features scenes shot on location played mainly by Reggiani, Schneider and Dany Carrel, as well as kinetic art tests that deal with movement of forms and color. In the contemporary part of the documentary, actors Bérénice Béjo and Jacques Gamblin perform additional scenes taken from the original Clouzot script, and there are numerous testimonies by technicians who worked on Inferno.
On this fascinating narrative framework, Bruno Alexiu composed a rich, vibrant and sensitive score that also appears to be a tribute to famous predecessors like François de Roubaix, Georges Delerue and Michel Magne, with an occasional nod to Bernard Herrmann. Sensuous jazz and electric guitar rhythms embellished with brass alternate with more abstract sonic experimentations, the whole effectively reflecting the typical effervescence of the nineteen sixties.