Mystery of Picasso

Jury Prize
Cannes Film Festival
Palme d’Or
Cannes Film Festival
This marvelous film...simply sits back in awe as the grand old man, shirtless and confident, does what he does best.


The Mystery of Picasso

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Like a matador confronting a bull, the artist approaches his easel, his eyes blazing. As he wields his brush, we see through the canvas as the artwork unfolds, erupts, dances into being before our eyes. Pablo Picasso, the most influential artist of the twentieth century, is making a painting, and Henri-Georges Clouzot, the famous French director (The Wages of Fear, Diabolique), is making a movie.

In 1955, Clouzot joined forces with his friend Picasso to make an entirely new kind of art film — a film that could capture the moment and the mystery of creativity. Together, they devised an innovative technique — the filmmaker placed his camera behind a semi-transparent surface on which the artist drew with special inks that bled through.

Clouzot thus captured a perfect reverse image of Picasso’s brushstrokes and the motion picture screen itself becomes the artist’s canvas. Here, the master creates, and sometimes obliterates, 20 works (most of them, in fact, destroyed after the shoot), ranging from playful black-and-white sketches to Cinemascope color murals — artworks which evolve in minutes through the magic of stop-motion animation. Unavailable for more than a decade,
The Mystery of Picasso is exhilarating, mesmerizing, enchanting and unforgettable. It is simply one of the greatest documentaries on art ever made. The French government agreed — in 1984 it declared the film a national treasure.
Art & Artists, French Cinema, Documentary, Culture Vulture
Henri-Georges Clouzot
Pablo Picasso, Henri-Georges Clouzot
Winner, Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival
Nominee, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival
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