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THE HYPOTHESIS OF THE STOLEN PAINTING

France, 1979 (MIFF 1984)

Director: Raul Ruiz

This is the film that firlmy established Ruiz at the centre of debates on the avant-garde of the last ten years. It started off as A documentary on Parisian intellectual, Pierre Klossowski,who had just finished working with Ruiz on the adaptation of one of his novels "La Vocation Suspendue".

It was obvious to Ruiz that a straightforward documentary would be unthinkable and that Klossowski himself should be placed in a situation of his own devising, if they were ever to be faithful to their subject. The key to the problem was found in the personage of Tonnere, a painter (who never existed) often used by Klossowski in his fictional world, who would serve as a comfortably ambiguous shell for Klossowski to represent himself.

Ruiz went to work on creating 12 imaginary paintings by this imaginary painter, adhering strictly to the conventions of the 'tableaux vivants" that characterise much of Klossowski's writing. When everything was ready Klossowski was unable to play Tonnere (this is probably another fiction) and Jean Rougeul stepped into his shoes, allowing Ruiz to cast his imagination further afield towards a unique combination of their respective fictional desires.

“The Hypothesis" thus becomes a thriller in which Rougeul as an art historian is trying to reconstruct the essential features of a painting which completes the collection of Tonneres, and which nobody has seen because it was stolen before Tonnere became a "household name". In order to do so, he interprets all the other paintings, drawing out themes and motives that prove Tonnere's modernity and relevance to the contemporary art world.

Hitchcock and Welles are immediately implicated in this truly remarkable film which also functions as the ideal meeting point of psychoanalysis and current questions of film theory.

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