Two women passengers die in a car crash as a result of which the female driver has a leg amputated. The zoologist twin husbands of the dead women are fascinated by the processes of decay, start an affair with the amputee and liberate animals from a zoo. This provocative, funny and stylish film is also a tribute to Vermeer and an exploration of the trauma of loss, man’s relationship with animals and the attraction of lists. The wonderful cinematography is by Frenchman Sacha Vierny and the thrilling score is by Michael Nyman.
An avant-gardist who earned surprising access to the mainstream, Peter Greenaway is among the most ambitious and controversial filmmakers of his era. Trained as a painter and heavily influenced by theories of structural linguistics, ethnography, and philosophy, Greenaway’s films traversed often unprecedented ground, consistently exploring the boundaries of the medium by rejecting formal narrative structures in favor of awe-striking imagery, shifting meanings, and mercurial emotional tension; fascinated by formal symmetries and parallels, his material displayed an almost obsessive interest in list-making and cataloguing, earning equal notoriety for its provocative eroticism as well as its almost self-conscious pretentiousness. Born April 5, 1942, in Newport, Wales, Greenaway was raised primarily in nearby Chingford. After deciding at the age of 12 to become a painter, he entered the Walthamstow College of Art. By 1965, Greenaway had begun working as a film editor for the Central Office… read more
Exceptional film from Greenaway with all artisans involved firing on full cylinders. The indelible set design and art direction, the exquisite cinematography of Sacha Vierny, the rich score by Nyman, the well cast group of thespians and the rich, meticulous direction by Greenaway make this film essential viewing. A pleasure to rewatch this evening bringing back memories of discovering his films as they were released.
So, what does one get for the film that has everything? A special cinematography award for ravishing natures mortes? A written apology from Cronenberg for ripping it off (and dumbing it down)? A monument in the city of Rijn? How about the pledge to show it as one of my four picks if I am ever chosen as TCM guest programmer...? Come on, Ted, what do you say? For Vermeer's sake if no one else's?
First Greenaway film I saw. When the credits rolled, I realized I was there to stay. Wonderful score by Nyman. The art direction, sets, costumes, effects, everything is breathtaking. Amazing cinematography by Vierny, who shows here he can do well more than Last Year at Marienbad. A delight for the senses. *****