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Friday, March 5 – Thursday, March 18

We kick off a year-long celebration of The Brattle’s 20th year as a non-profit with a “The Brattle Selects” program that focuses on titles that we’ve premiered since 2001. While it is a vintage title (in fact, its New England premiere was at the Brattle back in 1960), a new restoration of THE MYSTERY OF PICASSO was the first film that the Brattle Film Foundation screened at The Brattle back in March of 2001.

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 and Diabolique), is making a movie. And what a movie! THE MYSTERY OF PICASSO still stands as one of the greatest films about art and the creator.

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. 

"When we are all dead, you and me and everyone," said Clouzot to Picasso, "the film will still continue to be projected."

“One of the most exciting and joyful movies ever made!” – Pauline Kael, New York Times

  • Year
  • Runtime
    78 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Premiere
    20th Anniversary of the Brattle Film Foundation
  • Director
    Henri-Georges Clouzot
  • Cast
    Pablo Picasso