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... more » 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.« less
"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!"
Luis M. Benito | San Diego, CA USA | 09/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Jose M Estrada | Houston, TX | 12/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A unique and invaluable film
Jorge L. Peschiera | New York, NY | 10/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A film as a priceless treasure:
Galina | Virginia, USA | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A-one-of-a-kind look at the artistic process, the unique art documentary captures the creativity itself. Two friends, the great painter and the great director, Pablo Picasso and Henri-George Clouzot decided to do what Goethe's Faust had dreamed about - to capture and to store forever the moment of beauty and inspiration. Picasso conceives, sketches, and paints twenty canvases before our eyes as the camera rolls. The film did not solve the mystery of Picasso who had said about himself, "When I was 9 years old, I could paint like Rafael; as an adult, all my life I tried to learn how to paint like a child" but it lets us to be the eye-witnesses of the amazing process - the birth of twenty works of art into existence. Twenty exiting moments the only Artist could live through are captured forever for us to enjoy again and again. Clouzot uses a specially designed transparent 'canvas' to provide an unobstructed view and different techniques including slow motion animation to let the main character, the invisible Picasso's brush speak for itself. The film is accompanied by exquisite music and gorgeous photography by Claude Renoir, grandson of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and nephew of Jean Renoir. The paintings created by Picasso in the film cannot be seen anywhere else. They were destroyed upon completion of the film. The French government has taken over the preservation of the original negative and has declared this truly unique and priceless documentary a national (and I would call it an international) treasure.
Criterion DVD also includes "Guernica", a short documentary directed in 1950 by Alain Resnais before any of his feature films. Picasso's "Guernica" is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th Century which was created by the artist in response to bombing and destroying the ancient Basque town of Guernica by German aviation on April 27 1937 during Spanish Civil War. The painting is a passionate protest against war as well as the fascinating work of art. Resnais' 13 minutes short film is based on paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso from 1902 until 949 including "Guernica" and is set against the ode written by French lyrical poet Paul Éluard and recited by Jacques Pruvost and María Casarès. In his early short film, Resnais already uses his famous jump cuts and cross-fades. "Guernica" is a valuable feature which goes well together with the marvelous "The Mystery of Picasso" and adds to understanding one of the most prolific and mysterious Artists of the last century.