Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (L'Enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot)

France 2009, Documentary, 94' | Director, Screenplay Serge Bromberg | DoP Irina Lubtchansky, Jérôme Krumenacker | Editor Janice Jones | Sound Jean Gargonne | Music Bruno Alexi | Cast Romy Schneider, Bérénice Bejo, Serge Reggiani, Jacques Gamblin, Dany Carrel, Jean-Claude Bercq, Mario David, Maurice Garrel, Catherine Allégret, Barbara Sommers | Production Lobster Films

In 1964, Henri-Georges Clouzot (Wages of Fear) was to begin his most ambitious project ever: The Inferno with the then 26-year-old Romy Schneider and Serge Reggiani in the leading roles. Although, or precisely because, the project came with an unlimited budget, work on shooting the film was ill-fated from the very start. It was Clouzot's ambition to liberate himself from the grammatical rules of cinema and from the usual structures of creativity by testing the limits to which film-makers before him had never dared go. After only three weeks, work ground to a halt: Serge Reggiani had fled the set and the director had had a heart attack.

The fifteen hours of material stored in 183 film canisters were subsequently considered lost until Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea finally traced them. However, Clouzot's widow, Inès, initially refused to approve publication. "I talked to her about the idea of restoration which she didn't think a particularly original idea. But then we ware trapped for two hours in a lift, after which she decided it was something special," says Serge Bromberg.

He and Medrea have turned the material into an intriguing document which tells the story of a unique film and of its nightmare production. Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno consists of three elements: (i) the partly experimental original rushes - Romy Schneider's psychedelic cigarette smoke scene alone makes the film worth seeing; (ii) interviews with persons who were on the set at the time - such as Costa-Gavras who worked as a production assistant during preparations; and (iii) scenes which have been re-enacted on the basis of Clouzot's original screenplay with actors Jacques Gamblin and Bérénice Béjo - so that today's audiences may get a glimpse of the story, a drama of raging-jealousy.


Ruxandra Medrea first worked in the world of film as a lawyer engaged on copyright issues. In 1980, she moved from Romania to Austria and then to France. Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno is her first full-length work. In 1985, along with Eric Lange, Serge Bromberg set up Lobster Films, with main aim of finding films believed lost. The company is now one of the world's major players in the film restoration sector and manages a catalogue of 40,000 old films.

Serge Bromberg produces programmes for Arte TV, presents animated films on French School TV and, playing the piano himself, provides music to his live show: Retour de Flamme. Since 1999, he has been Artistic Director at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

Ruxandra Medrea, Serge Bromberg