The first of three parts, we follow Tulse Luper in three distinct episodes: as a child during the first World War, as an explorer in Mormon Utah, and as a writer in Belgium during the rise ... See full summary »
The first of three parts, we follow Tulse Luper in three distinct episodes: as a child during the first World War, as an explorer in Mormon Utah, and as a writer in Belgium during the rise of fascism. Packed with stylistic flourishes, it's a dense, comic study of 20th century history, revolving around the contents of one man's suitcases. Written by
The Moab Story is a fascinating cinematic experiment - it really is an encyclopedic CD-ROM-like film - it reminded me of The Pillow Book and A TV Dante in its presentation. The screen is predominantly busy with informative movement. I watched the film on DVD and the text on screen is small, but I was constantly zooming in on the picture to read it so it wasn't a problem. But the viewing would be enhanced watching it on as large a screen as possible, but having said that it is appropriate for DVD with its interactivity. The project as a whole begs for interactivity with the individual user.
The film begins with showing us actors auditioning for roles, which is also used later. Tulse is a young boy with his friend Martino Knockavelli in the back yard of his house in Newport, Wales. A red brick wall collapses on Tulse and then we progress through history, with war footage in the background. Tulse travels to Moab where he is abused and jailed, and then later travels to Antwerp and faces the sinister Red Fox fascists. Throughout the film a small box with the head of a talking expert inside appears (like A TV Dante) describing the background of what is happening. Characters are noted on screen with name and number when they appear. It was fun reading all of Luper's Lost Films that scrolled down the screen, as well as seeing the other suitcases (suitcases 1 - 21 are featured in this film). It was good to see former Greenaway films - Vertical Features Remake, Water Wrackets, A Zed & Two Noughts, and The Belly of an Architect - referenced and appear. Greenaway is really experimenting here with image and sound, using repetitive sound at times giving an echoing effect. He plays with connecting numbers to draw shapes on screen when Percy strikes Tulse. Sometimes the screenplay is shown on screen after the characters have said it. The cinematography by Reinier Van Brummelen is good. The music by Borut Krzisnik is superb and feels appropriate. In the acting stakes Caroline Dhavernas is the stand out, and J.J. Feild does a capable job as Tulse. It's a film that (like all Greenaway films) needs to be watched several times. I look forward to seeing Vaux to the Sea.
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