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Young Dutch landscape architect Meneer Chrome comes to a remote English estate where Thomas Smithers lives with his wife, Juliana. Smithers is determined to leave as his legacy a fabulous garden, to be carved from a wild patch of land beside his home. Chrome receives written instructions from his unseen master via a secretary, and the master is Juliana's cousin, Fitzmaurice, who had romance with Juliana when they were young and plans to make Thomas bankrupt via setting up extravagant garden and to make Juliana come back to him.Written by
If you are an adventurer in film, then you'll know Peter Greenaway. And if you know him, you'll likely know his first feature film: "The Draughtsman's Contract." It wasn't as selfreferentially dense as projects that followed, but its an incredible structure. It references restoration drama in form. While it makes itself that way, the story is of a illustrator who creates reality while drawing it. The "reality" in question is of an English country estate and it involves sexual intrigue toward and by the artist. There's a tussle about who is writing/ drawing the film we see.
Now we have a film built directly on top of that. It stars Ewan McGregor who had the year before starred in Greenaway's most advanced film (as of this writing). You really have to know both of those movies to appreciate this. You have to also know that the "crazy" young woman is the grandchild of our first lucid filmmaker and his wife, herself the daughter of one of our most lucid playwrights. She seems at times to literally control what is seen by all. And it helps to know that the repressed but eager mother is played by the woman who was June Gudmundsdottir in one of our most lucid films.
"Lucid" here in terms of films that see themselves as they unfold.
The actual movie by itself is rather chopped up, and directed in a somewhat incoherent way. But it doesn't matter at all, and I only noticed it the second time. Its about the things behind the things we see. That's what it is and what the story is.
It begins with the most amazing images behind the title. They are blurry images, just barely noticeable as moving humans. Later, they will be conflated with reapers, fishers, statues... and all folded in as the girl's dreams, which are further folded into the book she reads, the letters Ewan's character writes, the design of the garden and its undesign.
Its a mind game. Its lovely without being rich. Its not slick. It has holes. It was done cheaply and without visual flourish. But what a fun ride!
What a ride.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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