J’accuse is 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 background, the context, the conspiracy, the murder and the motives of all its 34 painted characters who have conspired to kill for their combined self-advantage. Greenaway leads us through Rembrandt’s paintings into 17th century Amsterdam. He paints a world that is democratic in principle, but is almost entirely ruled by twelve families. The notion exists of these regents as charitable and compassionate beings. But reality was different. –IMDb
Greenaway points out to the viewer all sorts of ‘evidence’ that can be found in the Nightwatch, but which no one ever noticed before. Just as in the acclaimed American show CSI, Greenaway knows how to make the evidence for the murder credible by basing his line of questioning on the facts: historical sources, comparisons with other works of art that contain a secret message and mainly by highlighting numerous details in the painting that were never noticed before or that were simply not correctly interpreted.
The documentary explains how and why The Nightwatch, Rembrandt’s J’accuse, is a criticism of Amsterdam’s oligarchy and plutocracy of the Golden Age, a demonstration of the manipulative power of the visual image, and an indictment, which puts all the characters involved in a complex and devious conspiracy to murder. Greenaway himself plays the part of the public prosecutor, but is at the same time himself. In his 21st Century clothes he will interrogate characters from the movie Nightwatching, dressed in historical costumes on their part in the murder conspiracy. –petergreenaway.info
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
A rather bizarre visual essay that argues that within Rembrandt’s Night Watch is an accusation of murder and conspiracy. Regardless of whether or not one buys Greenaway’s point, his fascinating deconstruction… read review