Many in cinema circles argue that Henri-Georges Clouzot, and not Alfred Hitchcock, is the “true” master of suspense. Indeed, Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques is certainly brilliant (though I was underwhelmed by his highly regarded Wages of Fear), but I have yet to see him equal Hitchcock’s Psycho or Rear Window. However, The Mystery of Picasso is not a thriller. It is, in fact, a completely different genre and for that, Clouzot deserves accolades that I cannot bestow on Hitchcock. This is a remarkable and unique work. If you go into The Mystery of Picasso expecting suspense, you’ll be caught off-guard. The film is a collaboration between Clouzot and Pablo Picasso, one of the most fascinating painters of the 20th century. There are no actors besides Picasso and Clouzot themselves. There is no ‘script.’ The Mystery of Picasso studies art’s creative process in a dazzling fashion. Much of the film is simply blank paper being filled by Picasso’s improvisations. Under less talented direction, this could have been a 75-minute bore. Under Clouzot’s hand, it’s hypnotic; he shot 23 different paintings by filming through the paper (Picasso used ink that bled through the canvas). Those who lack much of an attention span could become weary but the film rewards patience. Watching Picasso’s style develop—from black marker to splashes of color to fully detailed paintings—is a treat. Many of the early pictures showed every brush stroke but the later ones took longer. Clouzot’s brilliance comes out in the editing where he effortlessly displays how Picasso’s paintings evolve. As a deft touch, Clouzot uses wipe cuts exclusively to switch from scene to scene, portrait to portrait.