Tulse Luper is a 20th century everyman whose collection of 92 suitcases intersects with every person, event and movement in history. Here in the second of a three part story, we find him ...
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Tulse Luper is a 20th century everyman whose collection of 92 suitcases intersects with every person, event and movement in history. Here in the second of a three part story, we find him working in a cinema, which gives him ample opportunity to cross paths with virtually every artistic device and dramatic character known to man.Written by
I never found Greenaways attempts at serious drama very convincing, after all, his films were less about people than about the attempt to catch the world in some sort of system. So for me, The Tulse Luper Suitcases are a return to form: labyrinthine, witty, and formally the most surreal and over-the-top features Greenaway ever made. Greenaway deliberately dissolves any notion of narrative closure: His film is about the longing for a system that covers the world and at the same time the futility of such an attempt. Tulse Luper leaves 92 suitcases in his life, filled with children, candles, coins; honey, water, gold; body parts, Ingres drawings and 55 men on horseback. In a way, he owns the world in these suitcases, but that does not make him free: He spends most of his life in prison, and each episode of the film (Part 2 covering Episodes 4 - 6) is one prison. Also, the film detonates any attempt to capture the world in full by its form: There are windows in the images that show alternative takes of the same shot, there are repetitions, doublings of text in spoken and written form, the same text spoken in different manners at the same time - it's wild. Greenaway has done this kind of thing before, and it always looked redundant to me. Here it makes sense: The world is just too big, and you have to decide how to relate to it: Either you are paranoiac, trying to piece everything together by Greenaways absurd classification systems, firmly believing in some confused master plan; or you decide that everything is nonsense anyway - but then, what about the links between things, the narrative? I decided to just go with the flow, to enjoy the perfidies and little moments, the beauty and inventiveness of the images, like a complex, multi-layered symphony (the almost perpetual music made that even easier). This is the first time Greenaways ongoing talk about a new cinematic language makes sense to me - although, compared with Godard, it's not as revolutionary as he might imagine. Greenaway, of course, has more to say than just things about classification systems: His dark and desperate world view was never more convincing. Violence and death strike arbitrarily, dumb sexual desires rule history, and the best option you have is try to stand aside and make sarcastic comments. There is oppression, injustice, obsession, gender confusion; nothing is stable, and Tulse's obsession with classification and lists is just a desperate grasp at a world that constantly slips away and bites back. At least, Greeneway makes the attempt look good, and I really enjoyed it.
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