Archive for month October, 2018

The Japanese brand Beverly started producing not long ago some puzzles with no pattern at all. Just a solid black or a solid white puzzle. They first commercialized small 100 pieces puzzles of this type. Then they got bolder and published 150, 300, and 1000 pieces versions.

Finally, they came up with a 2000 pieces version. If the level of difficulty can be measured as difficult, very difficult, and extremely difficult, this puzzle defies classification and it is defined as Torture. In fact, there is a warning in the box: For masochists only. Users refer to it as white torture, white hellpure hell, or pure white hell. There are some people that have completed the 1000 pieces version, but not many brave enough to attempt the 2000 pieces version. I wonder whether it is more difficult than the 5000 version by Ravensburger of The Night Watch.

One day, talking about puzzles and movies, @aschenbach13 pointed out that there was an old movie where such puzzle appeared: Sleuth, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1972. That means that they came up with the idea of a white puzzle 40 years before the Japanese manufacturer.

White Puzzle in the movie Sleuth (1972)

Sleuth (1972)

A white puzzle and other games

Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier) is a successful writer of crime fiction and an enthusiast of elaborate games and automata. He invites his wife’s lover Milo Tindle (Michael Caine), a hairdresser of Italian heritage, to his home to discuss the situation. From the maze that appears at the beginning to the tragic ending, the plot advances through games, deceit, appearances and, finally, crime. As the last words of the script state: “it was just a bloody game”.

I recommend watching the movie, of course. However, the interesting thing for us is the presence of a solid white jigsaw puzzle in the set. Since the protagonist is an enthusiast of games, it made sense to include a jigsaw puzzle. The director points it out with a close up in the initial stages of the film and several times later. It is very likely that they manufactured the puzzle specifically for the movie, since such puzzle was not probably available back in 1972. The puzzle seems to have 620 pieces (31 x 20), which is a very unusual count for a commercial puzzle.

I have created a short video with several clips where the puzzle appears. In one of them, Milo destroys violently the puzzle, and all the work that Andrew had put on it. It is a scene particularly painful for puzzle fans. However, after several days, a detective visits the house and the puzzle is fully assembled now lying on a table. That is quite unrealistic, though, since it would be really impressive (and almost impossible) to complete such puzzle in just a few days, even for the protagonist.

More movies with puzzles?

In 2007 Kenneth Branagh directed a remake of Sleuth. Michael Caine played the role of Andrew Wyke this time, while Jude Law played Milo Tindle. However, no games or jigsaw puzzles appeared in the remake, when they were very significant in the original movie. The result is much less interesting.

In the movie Mile 22, currently in theaters, the protagonist is also working on a solid white jigsaw puzzle. The intention is to portray him as a highly intelligent individual, but the puzzle itself doesn’t have any connection with the plot. Whether assembling jigsaw puzzles and intelligence are correlated or not, I will leave it perhaps for a future post.

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This puzzle is very unusual, and it is not just because it only has two corners. It is an illustration of the Grand Canal in Venice with a lot of really minute details. Although the title in the box is simply Venice, the complete title of the illustration is It’s a Doge’s Life on the Grand Canal, by Graham Clarke. MB produced it in 1992.

1500, MB, Its a Doges Life on the Grand Canal, Blog Post, Picture of the puzzle assembled

When I verified the puzzle, I got 1504 pieces. However, due to the very particular shape, there was no way to know whether the puzzle was complete or incomplete. For that reason, I put it together eventually, and I’m glad I did. The pieces have a very snug fit that I liked, although they seemed slightly different to other MB puzzles.

I found the puzzle more challenging than I had expected. Buildings, boats, ships, inscriptions, text… There are a lot of details that are difficult to distinguish unless you have very good eyesight or you look very, very close. This puzzle would probably have been more enjoyable in 3000 pieces. In any case, it was very fun and it was luckily complete. I listed it later in the online store and the puzzle went to new hands very quickly.

Venice and the Grand Canal

The Doge of Venice was the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice. He lived in the Doge’s Palace, which is one of the most characteristic buildings in the city. This building appears in many puzzles with paintings by Canaletto, like the 5000 pieces version by F.X. Schmid of Return of the Bucentaur to the Molo on Ascension Day. An even better image of the Doge’s Palace is the 3000 pieces puzzle by F.X. Schmid of Panorama of Venice. In our puzzle, we can distinguish the building just in the middle of the image, in a light pink color.

The Grand Canal forms the major water-traffic corridor in the city of Venice. In the banks of the Grand Canal there are more than 170 buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century, and demonstrate the welfare and art of Venice. Because most of the city’s traffic goes along the Canal rather than across it, only the Rialto Bridge crossed the canal until the 19th century. The bridge also appears in the illustration, which seems to include every detail. We can see the bridge with more detail in the puzzle 5000, Jumbo, A Busy Day Near the Rialto Bridge, by Antonio Pascutti.

There are a lot of puzzles with paintings and photographs of Venice and they are too many to list.

1500, MB, It’s a Doge’s Life on the Grand Canal, by Graham Clarke, 79 x 60 cm, Reference number 3890.21.

1500, MB, It's a Doge's Life on the Grand Canal, Blog Post, Picture of the box

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