Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends ... See full summary »
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Barbara M. Messner,
This is a TV adaptation of a 1993 opera entitled "Rosa," with a libretto by Greenaway and score by Louis Andriessen. "Rosa" is the first in a projected series of 10 operas, each dealing ... See full summary »
Miranda van Kralingen,
Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends much further than either the purse or the sketchpad. The sketches themselves prove of an even greater significance than supposed upon the discovery of the body of Mr. Herbert. Written by
Paul Kevin Harm <email@example.com>
The movie was originally inspired by Peter Greenaway's attempts to draw a house he'd rented for a vacation and finding that the sun rising/falling changed the shadows and appearance too rapidly for a drawing to be completed in one sitting. He thus spent a specific period each day drawing the house from a specific angle (like the draughtsman in the movie). See more »
The cooing of a collared dove is not a sound that would have fallen on Jacobean ears, as the species was unknown in Britain until 1955. See more »
Mr. Chandos was a man who spent more time with his gardener than his wife. They discussed plum trees - ad nauseam. He gave his family and his tennants cause to dread September, for they were regaled with plums till their guts rumbled like thunder and their backsides ached from overuse. He built the chapel at Fouvant, where the pew seats are made of plumwood, so the tennants still have cause to remember Chandos through their backsides - on account of the splinters.
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Is Greenaway our most intelligent filmmaker? One of them at least. He is master of lush self-referential allegory. Here this is hung on a mystery masquerading as restoration comedy. Just maintaining the period and manner is quite a feat.
Self-reference. The film is about an artist who creates rich images that include incongruous elements. The arrogance of the artist is balanced by his blindness as to the meaning, the context of what the images reveal. Both the artist and the viewers are confused by the meaning and flummoxed by the events that the meaning triggers. Greenaway clearly means this to extend to himself, his film and the incompleteness of what we the viewers see. The drawings and the drawer's hands are in fact his.
Fantasy-allegory. This is a film richer in symbology than Drowning and Cook, but probably less so than the later `book' movies. Great attention has been spent on recondite supplementary images, including a central painting in the house being itself painted by the draftsman and filmmaker. I viewed it (the whole film) once just for details. The living statue is only the most obvious illogical element, and in fact draws attention away from other smaller visual diversions.
Mystery artifice. The whole environment is one of genteel artifice, hiding cruel mechanics of conspiracy. The cleverness of the construction is that Greenaway and us are full conspirators. No one, not us, him or the characters shown fully understand what is going on. The mystery form has always been a dialog between artist and consumer, a contest to see who can outwit whom. Very clever use of the mystery form here to include us in the artifice by not ever `playing fair.'
Restoration comedy. Past the visual allegory and the fantasy mystery and the self-reference is a restoration comedy which taken straight is hilarious. The statue is from this form.
My only criticisms are minor. This film contains a restrained story, and incidentally all sex takes place offscreen. Why be so conservative in these areas? Also, Lady Herbert required a more powerful actress I think.
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