PETER GREENAWAY

بيتر غريناواي
彼得·格林纳威
פיטר גרינווי
ピーター·グリーナウェイ
피터 그리너웨이
Питер Гринуэй

The Pillow Book

source: cinemaforum-easy

Peter Greenaway est un auteur, artiste des images, plasticien et cinéaste britannique né le 5 avril 1942 à Newport (pays de Galles). Il est le réalisateur de ses propres œuvres : films, expositions et sites Web multimédias.

Sa ligne de conduite créatrice principale est l’encyclopédisme singulier.

Bien que son œuvre soit très empreinte de noirceur, l’humour britannique, pince-sans-rire et l’humour noir, y sont très présents. Son travail n’est pas sans rapport avec la pataphysique et l’Oulipo ; lui-même n’y fait pas référence explicitement, mais il a déjà reconnu l’influence sur lui d’Italo Calvino, membre de l’Oulipo. Greenaway utilise souvent la contrainte numérique comme élément de structuration de certaines de ses œuvres. Ses films sont axés sur l’art en général (peinture, architecture, musique…) et révèlent souvent une fascination pour la couleur et les nombres. Les œuvres, sombres et cruelles, privilégient la lenteur et la beauté de la mise en scène au point de créer un certain malaise chez le spectateur.

Jusqu’en 1991, il confia principalement les musiques de ses films à Michael Nyman.
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source: 201010bkwkorg

פיטר גרינווי
פיטר גרינווי (באנגלית: Peter Greenaway; נולד ב-5 באפריל 1942) הוא במאי קולנוע בריטי.
גרינווי נולד בניופורט שבווילס. הוא צייר בהכשרתו ומשמש כפרופסור ללימודי קולנוע בבית הספר הגבוה בסאאס-פי שבשווייץ. הוא נודע בחזון הוויזואלי יוצא הדופן של סרטיו ובנכונותו לעסוק בנושאים שנויים
במחלוקת כגון עירום, קניבליזם ופטישיזם. חיצוניים

ביוגרפיה

פיטר גרינווי נולד בשנת 1942 בניופורט שבווילס, בשכונת פועלים לאב אורניתולוג. לאחר שנכשל ניסיונו להתקבל ללימודי קולנוע ב-Royal College of Art Film School החל גרינווי בהכשרתו כצייר ב-Walthamstow Art School. לאחר סיום לימודיו מצא גרינווי עבודה זמנית, תחילה כשומר-סף ואחר כעוזר שלישי לעורך, ב-BFI (British Film Institute). אז מצא גרינווי עבודה כעורך ב-COI, משרד ההסברה הבריטי, ובמקביל השלים לימודי תואר שני בקולנוע. במהלך עבודתו כעורך רכש גרינווי מצלמת 16 מ”מ צנועה והחל לצלם סרטים קצרים ולפתח תאוריה לגבי קולנוע לא-נרטיבי הנשען באופן בלעדי על הדימוי. תאוריה זו נבעה, לטענתו, בעיקר מחוסר תקציב.
סרטיו הקצרים הראשונים של גרינווי הושפעו מקולנוע אנטי-נרטיבי של יוצרי האנדרגראונד האמריקאי כגון הסטרקטורליסט הוליס פרמפטון, שלא הראו, לדבריו, שום ניסיון להגיע לאמת האובייקטיבית כמו במסורת הדוקומנטרית של גרירסון. כמו כן הוא הושפע מצורתם של אותם הסרטים הדוקומנטרים האינפורמטיביים הממשלתיים, במספר סרטים קצרים שלו מאותה תקופה ניתן למצוא סממנים פארודיים של סוג זה של סרטים דוקומנטרים אותו הוא עצמו יצר במסגרת עבודתו במשרד ההסברה.
כבר בסרט “חלונות” משנת 1975 ניתן למצוא רבים מאותם מאפיינים שילוו את סרטיו של גרינווי בהמשך דרכו: סטטיות, משחקי מילים, הומור שחור, נוף כפרי אידילי, מוזיקה ומבנה כללי.
הסרט “חלונות” (Windows) מורכב מבחינה חזותית מסדרה של צילומי חלונות סטטיים, מהם עם דגש על מסגרת החלון ומהם על הנוף הכפרי הנשקף מהם, כאשר בפסקול נשמע קריין המקריא שורה של עובדות סטטיסטיות לגבי אנשים שנפלו מחלונות בשנת 1973: ” […] of the 18 men, 2 jumped deliberately, 4 were pushed, 5 were cases of misadventure and one under the influence of an unknown drug, thought that he could fly”. בסרטיו הקצרים של גרינווי ניתן למצוא מתח וניגודיות בין התמונה ופס הקול. נוף פסטורלי, תצלומי מפות, רישומים, כרטיסי ברכה ותמונות סטילס מלווים בקריינות של סיפורים, רשימות והיסטוריות פיקטיביות.
בשנת 1980, במקביל לעזיבתו את מקום עבודתו במשרד ההסברה, ביים גרינווי את סרטו הראשון באורך מלא. The Falls, סרט מוקומנטרי שאורכו שלוש שעות, היה הסרט הבריטי הראשון מזה שלושים שנה שזכה בפרס הסרט הטוב ביותר של ה-BFI. הסרט מביא בצורה חיצונית של סרט דוקומנטרי הממומן על ידי משרד רשמי, את ה”ביוגרפיות” של 92 נפגעי ה-VUE (ראשי תיבות של אירוע אלים בלתי ידוע) ששמותיהם מתחילים באותיות F-A-L-L. אלה מופיעים בסרט כאשר הם ממוספרים ועל פי סדר האלפבית, כפי שנלקחו, כך על פי הסרט, מהמילון של הוועדה החוקרת את האירוע האלים הבלתי ידוע.
הסרט שביסס את גרינווי כבמאי מסחרי היה הסרט “חוזה השרטט” (The Draughtsman’s Contract), הפקה משנת 1982 שהופיעה מאז בכל פסטיבל קולנוע נחשב בעולם. בעקבות סרט זה הצליח גרינווי להשיג מימון בינלאומי לסרטיו הבאים וכך לביים עוד סרטים עליליתיים רבים, רובם ככולם מובנים דרך עקרונות ארגון כגון מספור, רשימות סטטיסטיות, אלף-בית או על פי סדרות של ציורים. מאז גרינווי ביים סרטים רבים באורך מלא, כתב תסריטים, הפיק סרטים קצרים, עבד בטלוויזיה, פרסם את תסריטיו וכן רומנים, הציג תערוכות רבות בכל רחבי אירופה וביים אופרה.
באחד עשר מסרטיו שיתף גרינווי פעולה עם המלחין הבריטי מייקל ניימן. בין השאר הלחין ניימן את הפסקול לסרטים “חוזה השרטט” , “טובעים במספרים” ו”הטבח, הגנב, אשתו והמאהב”.
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source: ejjewebliojp

ピーター・グリーナウェイ(Peter Greenaway, CBE,1942年4月5日 – )はイギリス(ウェールズ)出身の映画監督・脚本家である。
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source: cinedica

Inicialmente a família Greenaway vivia no País de Gales, mas mudaram-se para Essex quando Peter tinha apenas três anos de idade. Quando Peter era criança, desejava tornar-se pintor. O interesse pela pintura foi muito importante para definir toda sua obra artística. Cada filme de Greenaway é composto visualmente usando-se parâmetros estéticos da pintura. O jovem Peter estudou cinema, com particular interesse por Bergman, pela Nouvelle Vague e cineastas como Godard e especialmente, Resnais.
Em 1962 ele iniciou estudos no Walthamstow College of Art, onde fez amizade com um estudante de música chamado Ian Dury, (a quem mais tarde convidaria para fazer o filme The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover). Greenaway passou três anos em Walthamstow estudando para ser um pintor muralista e realizando seu primeiro filme , Morte do Sentimento, um ensaio sobre móveis de jardim de igrejas, filmado em quatro dos maiores cemitérios de Londres.
Em 1965 Greenaway juntou-se ao Central Office of Information (COI), onde passou os próximos quinze anos trabalhando, inicialmente como editor de filmes e como diretor. Durante esse período ele construiu uma filmografia pessoal de filmes experimentais.
Michael Nyman, autor da famosa trilha musical de O Piano compôs várias das trilhas musicais dos filmes de Greenaway.
Os filmes de Peter Greenaway são notáveis pela presença de elementos de arte renascentista e barroca, uso de luz natural, compondo cada cena de seus filmes como se fossem pinturas. Greenaway também sempre se interessou por ópera tendo escrito dez libretos, ele mesmo, para uma série nomeada “A Morte do Compositor”, enfocando dez compositores, de Anton Webern a John Lennon.
Em 1980 Greenaway realizou The Falls seu primeiro longa-metragem. Foi nas décadas de 1980 e 1990 que Greenaway produziu a parcela mais famosa de sua filmografia como diretor.
O interesse por ópera e música levou Greenaway a produzir, em 2005, um espetáculo multimídia em colaboração com o maestro e compositor David Lang e o calígrafo Brody Neuenschwander Intitulado “Writing on Water”. O espetáculo reuniu, ao vivo, a orquestra London Sinfonietta, o diretor, editando ao vivo imagens em uma mesa de vídeomaker, o compositor na regência da orquestra e o calígrafo, todos trabalhando ao vivo simutaneamente , com o produto audiovisual sendo lançado em um telão de grande dimensões que podia ser apreciado por uma vasta platéia.
Em 2003, Greenaway iniciou o projeto 92 Tulse Luper, que incluiu uma apresentação ao vivo com sua mesa de plasma onde editava o video ao vivo, um site interativo e um filme cinematográfico.
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source: cineforumgenoveseit

Peter Greenaway (Newport, 5 aprile 1942) è un pittore, regista e sceneggiatore gallese. È considerato come uno dei più significativi cineasti della cinematografia britannica contemporanea, occupando di diritto un posto centrale nel dibattito sul cinema d’autore. Il primo amore di Greenaway è lapittura; ama Tiepolo, Veronese e Bronzino e in generale tutto il barocco e il manierismo, periodi che considera molto affini alla nostra epoca. Secondo il regista inglese, infatti, il presente è una fase vuota di ideali propri, ma che rielabora, con gusto eccessivo e barocco, le conquiste raggiunte nei secoli precedenti. Il cinema, per Greenaway, è un’arte figurativa a tutti gli effetti, ragion per cui, nella ricerca delle tradizioni culturali, si riferisce alla pittura e in generale a tutta la storia dell’iconografia. La costruzione delle sue immagini diventa lo studio di un campo delimitato, chiuso, analizzato nei particolari e messo in scena solo quando trova la sua dimensione espressiva già in maniera statica. Nel 1980 gira il suo primo lungometraggio, Le cadute, ma è I misteri del giardino di Compton House la prima pellicola che rivela Peter Greenaway al pubblico internazionale.

Filmografia

Goltzius and the Pelican Company 2012; Nightwatching 2007; Le valigie di Tulse Luper – La storia di Moab – Parte I 2002; I racconti del cuscino 1995; The Baby of Macon 1993; L’ultima tempesta 1991; Il cuoco, il ladro, sua moglie e l’amante 1989; Giochi nell’acqua 1988; Il ventre dell’architetto 1987; Lo zoo di Venere 1985; Four American Composers 1983; I misteri del giardino di Compton House 1982; Le cadute 1980

Il regista sul film:
«La macchina da presa mantiene, come il disegnatore del film, uno sguardo costante, disimpegnato, osservatore, acritico, interessato alla trama di un tessuto, al lucore di una candela, allo stormire degli olmi in pari misura che alla postura di un cadavere o allo sconforto di una vittima di una coercizione sessuale. Così tutti gli avvenimenti sono aperti all’interpretazione, alla riconsiderazione, alla reinterpretazione. Non è un caso che la figura centrale, il disegnatore, abbia nel 1694 un dispositivo ottico per fissare la sua veduta sulla carta, uno strumento che di principio non è molto diverso da quello usato dagli operatori nel 1982 per fissare le vedute di Compton House sulla pellicola».

Note critiche

Felice esempio della collaborazione fra il British Film Institute e il Channel Four della TV inglese, “The Draughtsman’s Contract” ebbe buona accoglienza a Venezia nell’82 e sta ottenendo un ottimo esito commerciale in USA. Quarantenne, noto nell’ambito dell’avanguardia, drammaturgo finissimo prima che buon registaPeeter Greenaway, nella raffigurazione di un ‘700 sensuale e crudele, ha messo nello stesso frullatore le eleganti volgarità di “Tom Jones” e le luci di candela di “Barry Lyndon”, l’espressivo poverismo di Rossellini e le provocazioni di Straub. Scritta dal regista (non c’è dietro nessun romanzo), la storia è quella di un giovane paesaggista, Neville, che fa un contratto per illustrare in 12 disegni la proprietà del nobile Herbert. Ma nelle clausole, approfittando dell’assenza del padrone di casa, si includono i favori che la castellana concederà al pittore al compimento di ogni disegno; e ben presto alle grazie della madre si aggiungono quelle della figlia. Accade però che nella proprietà è stato commesso un delitto, l’uccisione di Herbert creduto in viaggio, e nei disegni sembra che per caso o per malizia Neville abbia fissato le tracce dei suoi sospetti. Insomma l’arte minaccia l’establishment per il solo fatto di rispecchiare la realtà; e l’artista, anche quando in apparenza trionfa dell’ambiente che locirconda, è sempre vittima predestinata. Il pittore finirà all’inferno come Don Giovanni tra i lazzi di una statua vivente che è una specie di parodia del Commendatore. Immagini spesso immobili, come bloccate nella posa richiesta per i disegni, recitazione non eccelsa, dialoghi fluviali. Un film più intelligente che riuscito.
(Tullio Kezich, Il Filmottanta- cinque anni al cinema dal 1982 al 1986).

Nei dodici disegni di un giardino si ravvisa più di quanto emerge dalla visione diretta del giardino stesso? A volte ciò che chiamiamo realtà è solo apparenza? Le rappresentazioni dell’esistente costituiscono elementi ambivalenti che scontano la scarto tra occhio e intelletto? Il protagonista de I misteri del giardino di Compton House pretende di dirigere gli eventi, ma ne subisce gli imprevisti, tenta di ingabbiare il Reale in una griglia, ma non tiene in nessun conto che il tentativo di costringere il fluire dei fatti in un rigido schema geometrico taglia fatalmente fuori dal quadro le implicazioni passionali, gli odi e gli intrighi. Sarà dunque punito: accecato perché ha voluto vedere senza saper guardare, ucciso perché, dimentico del suo status di outsider, peccando di tracotanza, non ha considerato chi teneva il coltello sociale dalla parte del manico. The draughtsman’s contract (letteralmente Il contratto del disegnatore), un film cartesiano travestito da mystery (che rimane tale: restano aperte le supposizioni relative all’identità dell’assassino), diventa all’improvviso oggetto di culto che rivela al mondo il talento di Peter Greenaway. In esso si rivela al grande pubblico un immaginario già compiuto: l’artista usato e manovrato, la donna giudice dei destini, l’illusorietà del tentativo di dare ordine al caos, le morti acquatiche, il sesso e il denaro come motori degli eventi, la pittura come arte suprema, tutte le ossessioni che caratterizzeranno la filmografia commerciale del regista sono già presenti. Mister Neville vede la sua creatività minacciata da congiure, da un cinico establishment, dal canagliesco compromesso (il contratto che gli si rivolta contro) che finisce col decretare il fallimento delle sue ambizioni artistiche. La riflessione che da subito caratterizza il percorso dell’autore è dunque quella, indiretta, sul suo destino di film maker alle prese con gli accidenti di un apparato spietato, oliato da interessi estranei all’Arte, che conduce invariabilmente alla rovina. Peter Greenaway, pittore (suoi i disegni su cui si basa la vicenda), dopo una lunga serie di eccitanti e premiatissimi lavori sperimentali, presenta al grande pubblico un film incentrato su un “paesaggio con figure”: questo spiega l’incedere continuo di inquadrature fisse su panoramiche d’insieme, con pochi, lineari movimenti di macchina e primi piani ridotti all’osso.I misteri del guardino di Compton Housedice già della predilezione del cineasta per l’artificio (anche in questo caso l’apparenza inganna: non c’è alcun tentativo di una seriarievocazione storica e questo lo si nota anche dai particolari: si vedano le acconciature esagerate dei personaggi, vestiti invariabilmente di bianco o di nero, si ascoltino i dialoghi, forbiti fino alla sofisticazione) e della sua ribadita convinzione che il realismo sullo schermo è pura utopia. Celebrando tutta una tradizione di landscape art inglese, Greenaway non manca neanche all’appuntamento con due insigni riferimenti cinematografici: il Resnais de L’anno scorso a Marienbad, da sempre film culto del regista e, soprattutto, Blow up di Antonioni, di cui ripropone, in chiave settecentesca, il tema del rapporto tra la realtà, di per sé ambigua, e la sua rappresentazione che, lungi dal consentirne la decifrazione, la rende ancora più complessa e impenetrabile. Ruolo non secondario, ancora una volta, ricoprono le splendide musiche di Michael Nyman.
Un film di gioiose metafore che sottolinea come lo sguardo dell’artista sia sempre impuro e che ribadisce, ancora una volta, la relatività di qualsiasi approccio al Reale.
(Gli spietati)

Inno, ode, lode all’epoca Barocca come massima rappresentazione della decadenza morale e sociale che affronta periodicamente il ciclo storico. Molto più simile alla nostra società contemporanea di quanto non si immagini, l’epoca barocca è combattuta nei suoi binari paralleli di opposti che la compongono cercando una logica di fondo tra il brutto e il bello, il vecchio e il nuovo, il fatiscente e e l’elegante. Peter Greenway conosce la soluzione ma non sente il bisogno di offrirci nessuna logica dominante, perché si sa che nei suoi film la storia non ha uno sviluppo di primaria importanza ma è un pretesto per rendere scenografici ed esteriori concetti estremi come sesso, morte, ipocrisia, vanità, dolore, tristezza, solitudine. Il giardino, è il vero protagonista del film che opera una forza coercitiva su personaggi anonimi e neutrali, didascalici nelle loro azioni, privi di psicologia in un contesto privo di alcun sentimento. Il giardino è l’unico ad avere un senso, a essere realmente bello, e a volte, sembra addirittura più vivo degli individui, e nelle sua bellezza quasi astratta cercano di trovare una logica che ristabilisca l’ordine delle cose.
(FilmTvit)
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source: lexikoniade

Peter Greenaway (* 5. April 1942 in Newport/Wales) ist ein bedeutender Experimentalkünstler und Filmemacher der Gegenwart und Professor an der European Graduate School in Saas-Fee.

Als Jugendlicher las er Jorge Luis Borges und James Joyce und begann sich für die Malerei zu interessieren, mit deren Studium er 1962 am Walthamstow-College begann. Ab 1965 arbeitete er als Cutter für das “Central Office of Information” und begann 1966 eigene Kurzfilme zu drehen, die sich an den Experimentalfilmen von Hollis Frampton (“Zorns Lemma”) und der Video-Avantgarde-Kunst eines Bill Viola orientierten und ihm eher wenig Anerkennung einbrachten. Erst als er 1980 mit seinem bis dahin ambitioniertesten Werk, der dreistündigen gefaketen Dokumentation “The Falls”, rund um ein absurdes “Violent Unknown Event” in Rotterdam auf einem Filmfestival vertreten war, wurde er bekannter und geriet an den niederländischen Produzenten Kees Kasander, der fortan seine Filme produzierte.

Sein erster abendfüllender Spielfilm “The Draughtman’s Contract”, war ein geschickt erdachtes kriminologisches Puzzle rund um einen eitlen Maler im England des beginnenden 17. Jahrhunderts. Darauf folgten der sehr surreale Film “ZOO-A Zed and two Noughts” über Tiere, Verwesung, Symmetrie, Schicksal und den Maler Vermeer, sowie der Film “Der Bauch des Architekten” und der wieder sehr ins Surrealistische ziehende “Drowning by Numbers”. 1989 erreichte er einen neuen Grad an Publizität durch die skandalöse schwarze Komödie “The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover”, deren Aufführung in Amerika verboten wurde. Neue visuelle Dimensionen erzeugt Greenaway dann 1991 in seiner Shakespeare-Verfilmung “Prospero’s Books” mit John Gielgud in der Hauptrolle. Die selbst für Greenaway extreme und oft obszöne Kirchensatire “The Baby of Mâcon” fiel bei Kritik und Publikum durch, wurde aber durch deren Begeisterung für das wunderschöne “The Pillowbook” mit Vivian Wu und EwanMcGregor ausgeglichen. Mit 8 1/2 Frauen schuf Greenaway eine witzige Hommage an Fellini voller sexueller Obsessionen, die aber die Komplexität und den Anspielungsreichtum früherer Werke nicht erreicht. Vielleicht kann man das aber wieder von Greenaways neuem Mammutprojekt “The Tulse Luper Suitcases” (2003-4) erwarten, einer Trilogie über das Leben des fiktiven Tulse Luper, der bereits in früheren Filmen Greenaways auftaucht und seine 92 Koffer mit obskurem Inhalt.
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source: egsedu

Peter Greenaway, Ph.D., born in Newport, Wales on April 5, 1942 and based in Amsterdam and London, is one of the great film directors of our time, an innovative curator, and a challenging philosopher of cinema. Considered to be an avant-gardist with a wide access to mainstream cinema, Peter Greenaway’s unique visual language reveals a strong influence by his training as a painter, structural linguistics and philosophy. Being openly critical of the ‘Hollywood’ approach to filmmaking, he believes the cinema should offer much more outside its slavery of narrative. As an artist who is a believer in the subversive power of the image, Peter Greenaway expresses his critical relation to our current visual culture in different forms – from paintings and films, to television, multimedia formats, opera, and most recently VJ-ing. The result of his constant explorations of the cinematic medium is the creation of incredibly rich imagery influenced by Renaissance painting, its architecture and juxtaposition to nature exploring the limits of provocative eroticism, sexual pleasure and death.
Peter Greenaway uses references to the past as a way to talk about the present time and to draw comparisons with our current civilization, although this dialectical aspect of his work has not always been fully understood. His films include The Falls (1980), The Belly of an Architect (1987), The Draughtman’s Contract (1982), Drowning By Numbers (1988), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), Prospero’s Books (1991), The Baby of Mâcon (1993), The Pillow Book (1996), and 8½ Women (1999). He has curated Flying Out Of This World (Paris 1992), The Physical Self (Rotterdam 1992), 100 Objects To Represent The World(Vienna 1993), Stairs (Geneva 1994, Munich 1995). Peter Greenaway’s latest projects have been Writing to Vermeer (Opera with Saskia Boddeke) and The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2003).
Peter Greenaway decided to become a painter at the age of twelve and entered the Walthamstow College of Art. He specialized in easel and mural, and painting and draughtsmanship became central to his practice and investigation carried on ever since, along with the production of novels, films and operas. He used collage as a main form to express his belief that painting could be as multi-layered as the works of poetry and literature, structuring his subject matter by rejecting the usual narrative mode. Nevertheless, his interest was as much directed toward music, text and temporality, and hence was strongly drawn to the cinematic vocabulary.
At the age of twenty-two, Peter Greenaway decided to focus his future development within the film industry, buying his first 16mm Bolex camera. Having been rejected by the Royal College of Art film school, he started his career as a film editor and director at the Central Office of Information, a UK government department responsible for making public information films. This work experience was soon translated into his obsessive exploration of the absurdity of bureaucracies, as well as the potentialities of the documentary form. Parallel to his daily job, Peter Greenaway soon started making his first experimental short films. In Train (1966) he created a mechanical ballet with the steam train coming into the station, while Tree (1966) focused on the tree living against the concrete on the streets of London. The voice-over in Windows (1975) told a story about the incidence of defenestration in the town of W. while showing the idyllic landscapes filmed through the windows.
In 1980, Peter Greenaway made his feature film debut with a mockumentary in 92 parts entitled The Falls. Set in the future, the film shows part of a directory of people who had suffered a mysterious ‘Violent Unknown Event’, followed by the symptoms such as dreaming of water, ailments, and obsession with birds and flying. Using his particular way to tell a story, Peter Greenaway simultaneously created a film that exposes the blind spots of bureaucracies and their ways to catalog and systematize people and objects. The film also features Michael Nyman’s musical score, a collaboration that strongly marked several of Peter Greenaway’s subsequent films.
Peter Greenaway’s critical breakthrough occurred in 1982 with the 17th century drama The Draughtsman’s Contract, establishing him as one of the most innovative and important filmmakers today. This murder mystery begins as a story about a young painter contracted by a wealthy lady, Mrs. Herbert, to produce a series of drawings of her estranged husband’s estate. The painter becomes much more involved into the life on the estate, becoming her bed companion as well. The story about power and deceit gets complicated after the discovery of Mr. Herbert’s dead body, turning the artist’s sketches into valuable but still ambiguous clues in discovering the potential perpetrator.
The inspiration for Peter Greenaway’s next feature film A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) came from a tape showing the decay of a mouse, a monkey with one amputated leg, and a borrowed photograph of a smiling woman standing between enigmatic identical twins. The film starts with a car crash in which both of the twin brothers’ wives die, and we follow them getting involved with a woman who seems to be responsible for the accident and is recovering after a leg amputation. The brothers are both zoologists and spend most of the time photographing decaying animals, as a way to deal with their loss. The woman they both share soon becomes pregnant with twins herself, and the structure of the film image follows the idea of symmetry throughout the film. The search for the other half, mistaken identities, as well as substitution, all play a role in one of the most incredible visual essays confronting the viewer with the human zoo, its passions, perversions, and the inevitability of death.
The Belly of an Architect (1987) focuses on obsession and architecture, two important concepts in Peter Greenaway’s vocabulary. A middle-age American architect, Stourley Kracklite, arrives in Italy to work on an exhibition about the work of a French architect, Boullée. During the course of nine months, his stomach brings him severe pains, parallel to the crisis he goes through in his marriage, the misery he feels for being old and fat, surrounded by the perfectionist Roman art and architecture. Becoming obsessed by the work of an architect who turned into a controversial figure, being an inspiration for Albert Speer, Kracklite seems to be unable to digest reality, a fact that becomes evident in his own creativity, leaving us with a man who is soon to lose everything he ever cared about.
Game rules and number-counting as part of imaginary folklore mark Peter Greenaway’s next film Drowning by Numbers (1988), a black comedy about the life of three generations of women of the same family carrying the same name, Cissie Colpitts. Each of them murders a husband by drowning, having to conspire with the coroner to hide the murders. This film was followed by Peter Greenaway’s most successful film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), considered by many to be a critic of Thacherism and consumerism in general. Here lust, food, sex and murder all meet in the restaurant La Hollandais, used by Peter Greenaway to set a stage to display the relationship between a young woman married to a vicious gangster, and her affair with a gentle bookshop owner. The film is constructed theatrically, creating a stage and theatrical sensuality that keeps one hypnotized by the displayed sadism. Voyeurism and guilt come together, confronting the viewer with the truth about his/her own perversions, bringing out the inhumanity hidden within humanity. The closing scene of a dinner feast blurs the border between love and disgust, while revenge becomes the only weapon left in the hands of the surviving lover.
Peter Greenaway’s radical interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest was to be seen in Prospero’s Books (1991), showing a unique method used to translate the narrative of a play into the cinematic medium. The image was turned into a series of intertextual double exposures using the electronic paintbox, creating a dense and multi-layered structure too complex to be described in words. Considered to be one of Peter Greenaway’s most experimental features, it combines mime, dance and opera to bring to life the story of an exiled magician whose daughter falls in love with the son of his enemy. Prospero, played by Sir John Gielgud, whose life ambition was the making of this film, is allowed to keep only a small fragment of his precious library. His voice describes the books in the course of the movie, filling the screen with magical calligraphies and diagrams.
Peter Greenaway’s next feature film was the highly controversial The Baby of Mâcon (1993), a satire of life in the 17th century, interpreted by some as a statement about the origins of contemporary narrative in violent Christian tradition. Depicting a morality play staged in front of the 17th century public, it tells a story of a town saved from famine after a baby was born by an old woman. The baby becomes exploited by the woman’s daughter who claims to have delivered it herself after immaculate conception, selling blessings to the desperate citizens. After a series of unforeseen events, the baby will fall into the hands of the local church to be further exploited. The unfortunate town will be in danger once again when the famine returns after the baby is murdered, while the viewers of both the play and the film are being confronted with the corruption in all levels of society.
Peter Greenaway will use once again the electronic paintbox in The Pillow Book (1996), an adaptation of the erotic Japanese literary classic from the 10th century. According to Peter Greenaway, this film should be seen as a celebration of literature and flesh, of sex and text. The film follows an unusual young woman, Nagiko, a Japanese model whose search for pleasure from various lovers includes her passion to have them write on her body. She will meet her perfect lover in a young British translator who will provoke her to change the order of her passion and start writing books on his body. The drama comes from a publisher rejecting her writings on paper, making her decide to use her lover’s body to transmit the story and seduce the publisher. In this, her bi-cultural identity plays an important part as she navigates through Chinese and Japanese cultural heritage, exploring it on both psychological and physical levels. The subject of archetypal male sexual fantasies will be further explored by Peter Greenaway in his 8 ½ Women (1999), where he depicts the amorality of two wealthy cultures on the geographical axis Kyoto-Geneva. After the death of his wife, a wealthy businessman and his son open their own private harem in Geneva, inspired by Fellini’s 8 ½. Very soon, the roles will be switched, turning masters into slaves, showing the women able to trade their freedoms by exhausting male sexual fantasies.
In 2003, Peter Greenaway presented his latest multimedia project entitled The Tulse Luper Suitcases including three feature films, TV series, 92 DVDs, CD-ROMs and books. Tulse Luper (“the wolf on your pulse”) is a recurring off-stage character in his early films and can be seen as a sort of alter ego, a professional writer whose life has been reconstructed from the objects found in his 92 suitcases. The main idea behind this project was to show the subjective nature of history since, according to Peter Greenaway, there is no such thing as history, but only historians. Being also a history of uranium, the number of suitcases came from its atomic number. The visual style of those three films seems to be pushing the borders even farther, offering a viewer a visual experience that should be watched as a process of discovering the origin of a story in the form of audio-visual collage.
In the last years, Peter Greenaway has focused on his new artistic project entitled ‘Nine classic paintings’, in which he employs groundbreaking image technology to explore nine masterpieces from the Renaissance to Jackson Pollock. His first project was his vision of Rembrandt’s painting ‘The Nightwatch’ (2006, Amsterdam), while he devoted two parallel film projects to Rembrandt: in the feature Nightwatching (2007) we see one possible interpretation of the mystery behind this famous painting, as well as a devastating influence it might have had on the life of its creator; J’Accuse (2008) has the form of a documentary that simultaneously criticizes our visual illiteracy today and the hypocritical society in which Rembrandt created his art. The next painting in the line of Peter Greenaway’s exploration was Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ (2008, Milan). The latest Venice Bienniale brought his newest art project casting Paolo Veronese’s ‘The Wedding at Cana’ (2009), offering a unique lesson in art history combining art, filmmaking and theater. The visuals are being projected on a full-scale digital replica of the original work, an incredible achievement on its own as it restores the original painting pixel by pixel. The audio brings to life imagined possible conversations the guests and the servants might have had at the day of Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine. With this last work, Peter Greenaway has shown himself once again to be one of the great artists of our time, not being afraid to experiment with the new means of expression, while continuing to investigate the role of art in our culture.