L’hypothèse du tableau volé
“People love mystery, and that is why they love my paintings.”– Salvador Dalí
“Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?”–William Butler Yeats
DIRECTED BY: Raoul Ruiz
FEATURING: Jean Rougeul
PLOT: An unseen narrator explains that an exhibition of seven related paintings from the fictional artist Fredéric Tonnerre caused a scandal in the 19th century and were removed from public view. We are then introduced to the Collector, who owns six of the seven paintings—one of them has been stolen, he explains, leaving the story told through the artwork incomplete. Using live actors to recreate the canvases, the Collector walks through the paintings and constructs a bizarre interpretation of their esoteric meaning.
- Raoul Ruiz is credited with more than 100 films in a career that lasted from 1964 until his death in 2011.
- Cinematographer Sacha Vierny had an equally distinguished career that spanned five decades. Especially known for his collaborations with Alain Resnais and Peter Greenaway, he lensed the Certified Weird films Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Belle de Jour (1967), The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Prospero’s Books (1991), and The Pillow Book (1996).
- Ruiz was originally hired by a French television channel to produce a documentary on writer/painter Pierre Klossowski. The project morphed into this fictional story that adapts themes and plots from several of Klossowski’s works, especially “La Judith de Frédéric Tonnerre” and “Baphomet.”
- Many of the figurants in the tableaux vivants were writers and staff from the influential journal “Cahiers du Cinema.” Future film star Jean Reno, in his first screen appearance, is also among those posing.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Obviously, one of the tableaux vivants—the three dimensional recreations of Tonnerre’s paintings featuring motionless, silent actors. From Diana and the hunt to Knights Templar playing chess, these are (perhaps) inexplicable scenes which, the narrator explains, “play[s] carefully on our curiosity as spectators who arrived too late.” The strangest of all is the tableau of a young man stripped to the waist with a noose around his neck, surrounded by men, one holding a cross, others in turbans and brandishing daggers, and three of whom are conspicuously pointing at objects within the scene. Hanging above them is a suspended mask.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: The hanged youth; whispering narrator; Knights Templar of Baphomet
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Performed with art house restraint in an impishly surreal spirit, this labyrinthine, postmodern meditation on art criticism plays like a Peter Greenaway movie done in the style of Last Year at Marienbad, adapted from a lost Jorge Luis Borges story.
Opening of The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting
COMMENTS: The ultimate question Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting Continue reading 325. THE HYPOTHESIS OF THE STOLEN PAINTING (1978)