11 February 2018



'I've never worried about the audience and I'm not about to start now, at my age.'
Pablo Picasso.

If you've ever had an overwhelming desire to watch a semi-naked little man painting purdy pictures for seventy-eight minutes straight, then THE MYSTERY OF PICASSO is undoubtedly the film for you.

The semi-naked little man in question just so happens to be Pablo Picasso, the most important figure in twentieth-century art. He's simply clad for work in shorts and sandals and nothing else, probably because of the heat in the studio, and he drinks the odd drop of wine while he toils. I like the way his mind works, lol...!

Behind the camera, capturing the artist's painstaking efforts, is one Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French film director responsible for such movies as THE WAGES OF FEAR and LES DIABOLIQUES. Clouzot directs while Picasso paints pictures from scratch.

I always thought that Picasso drew all this weird stuff like peoples' heads with watering-cans and legs sticking out where their ears should be, but he draws a surprising amount of normal stuff too, like in this unique documentary.

I can't call the documentary unprecedented, as apparently a Belgian documentary film called VISIT TO PICASSO had done something similar in 1949, but still, that's only two documentaries featuring Picasso doing his thang. In other words, it's still a pretty rare sight.

I did hear that the paintings he did for Clouzot were mostly destroyed, so that the images he created might exist only in this film, but I sincerely hope that that's not true. It'd be like feeding an early copy of THE BIBLE to hungry pigs, or like giving college students Shakespeare's original notes to use as loo paper. Mind you, those college students, they'll use anything, lol, as I seem to remember from my own far-off University days. I remember this one time... Well, no, maybe some things are better left unsaid.

Anyway, I made copious notes while Picasso was scribbling away effortlessly, making it all look so easy-peasy. I may not have correctly interpreted each drawing, as I only wrote down what each image looked like to me, so don't quote me on any of it. Here are my own personal impressions of what his impressions were saying to me:

A naked woman with big boobies lying on a bed with a man beside her.

A naked woman with an ugly little fat naked man looking at her. Behind him, a much taller, disapproving-looking naked professorial-type, wearing glasses, a scowl and feck-all else.

A sleeping nun, with her face resting on her arm.

A horseman jousting at a bull, halfway up a hill.

A bull with big balls, tossing a man on his horns while the crowd looks on. Splashes of bright red and gold everywhere and Spanish music playing. Of course, Picasso was Spanish, even though he lived most of his adult life in France.

Abstract: A horse(?), with big boobies also present in the picture. The owner of the boobies is conspicuous by her absence.

At this point, Picasso tells Clouzot: 'I don't mind being tired. I can go on all night if you want.' Picasso my man, that is exactly what we ladies like to hear from men. Anyway, to continue with my impressions of Picasso's etchings:

A fish with loads of ears, wearing glasses. The fish is wearing the glasses, not the ears. Then the fish turns into a chicken, with a face on its body.

A naked woman with big purple nipples (needs the heating turned up a tad, perhaps?), wearing a hat while seated. A tall fop in knee-breeches and a smaller man nearby. Between them, a seated genie (wish for some clothes to cover widespread nudieness, maybe?). Picasso squiggles over the lady's face and boobies.

A coffee-pot and a purple fruit or vegetable on a table next to a window.

Abstract: Two bowing leeks? Sounds like an anagram from a crossword puzzle, doesn't it?

A horse. A small naked man beside him. A cross-legged woman astride him. (Astride the horse, not the man!) A naked man and woman on either side of the horse. This is clearly gearing up to be some party, methinks. One I think I'd rather skip, thanks very much.

A bull's head, sniffing flowers. Bull's head changes to that of a mildly contented goat. Picasso changes the colours in the background till we have just the goat's bones in the foreground. It takes seconds to watch, but a whopping five hours to draw. Impressive.

Patterns. Fruit, flowers, a jug, a bowl.

A naked woman lounging on her right side, reading a book while Picasso draws patterns in the background.

Abstract: A sleeping naked woman with big boobies. Is there any other kind?

Abstract: A horned bull, tossing a matador on his horns. Wearing green sequinned breeches. The matador, that is to say, not the bull. They wouldn't fit the bull in a month of Sundays.

Abstract: A bull with big balls and a sword in its back. The matador's revenge, methinks.

Finally, a fabulous beach scene with people yachting, water-ski-ing, strolling, sunbathing, beach umbrellas and bikinis galore. Then the skies darken and the rain comes. Then the sun comes out again, but spooky faces appear in the water... Merveilleux...!

Then the bare-chested little seventy-five-year-old man departs the studio, without any fuss or fanfare. He's done, finit, finished, all wrapped up. The result is a film that will delight lovers of art everywhere, even if it is a bit top-heavy on the old naked dangling boobies and the big bulls' balls, heh-heh-heh. 

And not a single willy in sight, I might add, for any willy connoisseurs who may have been hopeful of spying an erect or even flaccid willy or two amongst all the nekkid bosoms. No willies at all in here, erect or otherwise. Well, it was 1956, after all. Maybe willies-as-art were still frowned upon by so-called 'polite society,' harrumph. 

Anyway, THE MYSTERY OF PICASSO is available to buy now from ARROW ACADEMY, in either DVD or Blu-Ray, and with a host of terrific extra features whichever format you choose. I think it's wonderful that someone thought of doing this in the auld fella's lifetime. After all, we'll never get to see Charles Dickens, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Vincent Van Gogh at work, but Pablo Picasso is right here on film for all to see. Genius At Work, see?

Students studying for Art exams this summer should be tied to chairs and forced to watch this excellent documentary, lol, and as I said earlier, art-lovers in general will automatically dig it. Just do me a favour and watch out for low-flying balls, okay...?


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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