The Mystery of Picasso (Le Mystère Picasso)

First show: March 08

“Pure and delightful enchantment—a feast for the eyes.A film anyone interested in art or the creative process should see.”—​Raymond J. Steiner, ​Art Times

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 art work 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.  The paintings made during the film were “reportedly” destroyed at the end of the production. 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.

A film by Henri-Georges Clouzot. France. 1956. A Filmsonor presentation. 75 minutes. DCP. Restored in 4K by Eclair Laboratories from the original camera negative. A Milestone Films release.

A work by Picasso created before our very eyes! That is a miracle which, if need be, would justify the greatness of cinema.”
– François Truffaut

NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME. Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.



The Mystery of Picasso (Le Mystère Picasso): Upcoming Showtimes