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The Mystery of Picasso (1956)

Pablo Picasso , Henri-Georges Clouzot , Henri-Georges Clouzot , Alain Resnais  |  PG |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Price: $62.00 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Pablo Picasso, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Claude Renoir, María Casares, Jacques Pruvost
  • Directors: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Alain Resnais, Robert Hessens
  • Writers: Paul Éluard
  • Producers: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Pierre Braunberger
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007ELEI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,763 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Mystery of Picasso" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Short Film: Alain Resnais' "Guernica" (1950, 13 min.)

Editorial Reviews

Just as visual artists understand the relationship between positive and negative space in their work, France's master filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique) understood--and set about demonstrating via The Mystery of Picasso--the relationship between creation and destruction in the artistic process. In 1955, Clouzot teamed with his friend Pablo Picasso to capture as many aspects of the brilliant painter's working methods as possible. Clouzot innovatively placed the camera in front of Picasso while the latter worked, thus capturing astonishing reverse images of brush strokes and "bleeding" inks in volatile motion. The result is that Clouzot's film--the screen, the frame--become Picasso's canvas, and we find ourselves inside his prodigious genius as works of beauty spontaneously burst forth and are instantly crushed beneath the weight of new images, new ideas. A viewer would be forgiven if, more than once, he felt like screaming at such nonchalant carnage. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Like a matador confronting a bull, the artist approaches his easel. As he wields his brush, the painting dances into being before our eyes. Pablo Picasso, the most influential artist of the 20th century, is making art, and famous French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique, The Wages of Fear) is making a movie. This entirely new kind of art documentary captures the moment and the mystery of creativity; for the film, the master created 20 artworks, ranging from playful black-and-white sketches to widescreen color paintings. Using inks that bled through the paper, Picasso rapidly created fanciful drawings that Clouzot was able to film from the reverse side, capturing their creation in real time. When the artist decided to paint in oils, the filmmaker switched to color film and employed the magic of stop-motion animation. By contract, almost all of these paintings were destroyed when the film was completed. Unavailable for more than a decade, "The Mystery of Picasso" is exhilarating, mesmerizing, and unforgettable; it is simply one of the greatest documentaries on art ever made. The French government agrees; in 1984 it declared the film a national treasure.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eye Molds the Canvas January 15, 2003
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A Fabulous film showing how an artist- in this case Picasso- takes a blank sheet of paper or canvas and transforms it into a work of art. Thru a special process that lets the inks bleed thru to the wrong side of the canvas where a camera captures the developement of a drawing from the first placement of a brush stroke to the final completed drawing/painting. Sometimes it is truly amazing to see what comes forth from the humble beginnings. We also are able to follow the developement of paintings as well with the aide of stop motion photography. I wish I were an art teacher so I could share this with my students! An enjoyable film for anyone with an interest in art!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERFUL! September 11, 2003
This film is a real treat, as gives us an insight into the work of Picasso by literally allowing us to see the master at work and how his simple brush strokes incredibly evolve into masterpieces, in some instances even metamorphosing before our eyes from a figurative piece in to a cubist expression of the same. This is a film that I was pleasantly surprised to see my 5-year-old son sit through shearing my amazement as Picasso worked for the camera. It's a definite "must have" for those that like Picasso and who, after viewing this movie, will appreciate his work even more!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable December 27, 2002
I once saw this film on television, late at night. This was at least ten years ago, and despite having seen it only once, many of the images are still fresh in my mind. Along with Alex Cox's "Vincent", an extraordinary documentary about the life of Vincent Van Gogh, this is probably the best portrait of the work and life of an artist. Worth every penny.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mystery lives on February 24, 2012
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Anyone who cares about Picasso or is even slightly interested must watch this film. Picasso promises the viewer that she will be shown the mystery of Picasso and his art. This promise made by the master himself. He does not disappoint either because he takes us on a ride of a lifetime with one work after the other created before the viewers eyes. He allows himself to get into real trouble and to effectively ruin a work only to pull it out of the ashes and go on. Learning from each so called mistake. In this presentation on seeing, the real mistake is not learning about the patient work that painting requires. Picasso will encourage and inspire us all in a life changing way. A must see! William Havlicek PhD
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique and invaluable film October 4, 2005
This is a straightforward documentation of Picasso's painting and drawing process. If you are looking for commentary, historical background, etc. look elsewhere. That being said, the film is a unique opportunity to see the master at work. Most interesting are the paintings, which utterly transform before your eyes as he creates and destroys layers upon layers of imagery before being satisfied with the result. It is impossible to see these hidden and discarded images, many of which are dazzling, in a finished Picasso. Some of the works in this film are masterpieces superior to many Picassos that hang in museums today, and they can only be seen here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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This is a fascinating demonstration by Picasso of his creative ability and his working technique. It is amazing to see how he begins a drawing or a painting at an improbable point, e.g. the upper left hand corner of the canvas, with a line which looks quite baffling at first, but which rapidly develops into a complete and intelligible picture. His mastery of drawing is evident at every moment. No erasing. No shaky lines. It is evident that he has a mental impression of the picture before he starts, so that the picture that emerges after that improbable start is correctly placed to fill the canvas. And what a picture it is! We have not one but many drawings created before our eyes. He also demonstrates his ability to change course as he works, as new ideas occur to him, totally transforming the work. In a final scene, he virtually destroys and recreates a beach scene several times as he reveals this amazing talent. It is astonishing to see how unerringly he can encapsulate an entire scene such a a bullfight with a few strokes of his brush. Note how a few simple marks in the background convincingly denote a large crowd. I found this entire performance absolutely captivating.

The filming technique is also masterful, so that the film is an artwork in itself. The film is actually a record of what appears on the reverse side of Picasso's canvas as he works. Picasso uses special inks that penetrate the canvas. The viewer sees the picture developing without the presence of the artist. During several breaks in the film, Picasso appears.

The film was made with a running commentary in French. Two separate and different commentaries in English have been added, so one may choose any of three versions.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for any artist or appreciator of art November 10, 2011
By Jeff
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an historic work of cinema. In it, you get to see one of the most significant artists of all time in the act of creating. As an artist, watching Picasso paint is mesmerizing - I've seen this video dozens of times and always see something new in his work. It is instructional - learn from it. It is inspirational - grow from it. Some of the dialogue is scripted and the musical score is dated - I just mute the volume and play my own music - you want to watch this for the painting anyway. The tortuous and creative process Picasso goes through on the last two pieces in the film is more than worth the small price of the DVD.

A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 days ago by Paul M Hermann
5.0 out of 5 stars What you never expected to see.
Listen to Picasso in person, hear his voice and feel you are there painting with him. Get to know what a genius is really like. Notice that is is just human like you.
Published 4 months ago by Geno
2.0 out of 5 stars dull
purchased for high school students - too boring - no info about him, just him drawing and painting, set to a melodramatic and grandiose sound track.
Published 5 months ago by bella
5.0 out of 5 stars Picasso
Anything on Picasso is Amazing,he is my all time favourite Artist!I can't think of anyone who could compare!...and dat's de Truth!
Published 7 months ago by Angus Paterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this DVD
As an artist, I loved being able to watch Picasso paint. Very, very well done! I would recommend to anyone.
Published 9 months ago by K. McCormac
5.0 out of 5 stars How Picasso Paints
A very interesting video on Picasso painting on glass so can see his process. Recommend this video for modern art lovers.
Published 10 months ago by Sharon M. Bressen
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular
This explains the life, and expression of an artist . To see this film is to know the man named Picasso. It is a testament to him that he so bravely made this film. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Justin Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity to see a genius at work
This allows you to watch as one of the world's greatest artists creates. This DVD is worth multiple viewings by those who enjoy art and by those who strive to create it.
Published 16 months ago by Harry Lieberman
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent analysis of Picasso and his thinking
I am an artist. Frankly, I don't care for his paintings...but I do appreciate his thinking and approach to art.
He is an original artist with his own interpretations. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Caroline Mast
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting!
Very interesting to watch him paint in this movie. It looks almost like he used wine mixed with the paint or ink for thinner; but who knows! Read more
Published 18 months ago by LoisPicasso
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