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An 'essayistic' documentary in which Greenaway's fierce criticism of today's visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt's Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the ... See full summary »
Rejected by Hollywood and facing pressure to return to Stalinist Russia, filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein travels to Mexico to shoot a new film. Chaperoned by his guide Palomino, he experiences the ties between Eros and Thanatos, happy to create their effects in cinema, troubled to suffer them in life.
Tired of her husband's philandering ways, the mother of two daughters drowns her husband. With the reluctant help of the local coroner, the murder is covered up. Her daughters are having ... See full summary »
As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko's father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from "The Pillow Book", the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, ... See full summary »
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,
Building on the potential of his installation in the isle of San Giorgio, Greenaway imagines that Aretino commissioned Veronese to paint The Marriage of Christ. Veronese, more than prepared... See full summary »
Right then: Confusing shots involving projecting writing onto the actors and sets, making the action hard to discern? Check. Copious nudity, including from bodies you'd rather remained covered up? Check. A suspicion that the creator aims primarily to shock? Double - no, triple - check. That's right, 'Goltzius and the Pelican Company' is another film from Peter Greenaway.
This is actually more accessible than many Greenaway films in that the plot line is fairly easy to follow, presented as it is in a good, linear fashion: it's the Sixteenth Century, and Dutch engraver Goltzius tries to encourage Alsace's Margrave (a sort of hereditary military commander in the Holy Roman Empire) to invest in his printing press by staging a series of plays. Convinced that any new technology is inevitably used for lechery (good point - I've often wondered how long after the invention of the Internet the first pornographic website appeared), Goltzius uses his theatrical company to enact stories from the Old Testament (Adam and Eve, Lot and his daughters, David and Bathsheba, etc). But it isn't long before the actors' own ambitions and desires overshadow the biblical stories...
There's lots of gimmicks here that don't make sense: for instance, the Margrave's former wet-nurse (who, as the Margrave is played by F Murray Abraham - dob: 1939 - must herself be pushing ninety at the very least) apparently being heavily pregnant in some scenes, but not in others. But you're wasting your time getting worked up about such things where Greenaway is concerned - you have to take him as you find him. As is to be expected from one of his productions, the costumes are sumptuous, the staging curious and the acting at times over-blown. There are some telling (to this non-religious reviewer) pokes at organised religion, as various men of the cloth debate the meanings and content of Goltzius' plays. There's also a sly streak of humour running through it which is welcome, as is at least some of the nudity - but not all of it: next time, F Murray, please keep your backside in your trousers, there's a good chap...
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