A car collides with a swan outside Rotterdam Zoo. Two women passengers die and the driver, Alma, has to have her leg amputated. Obsessed with the accident, the husbands of the dead women – twins at that – embark on a strange affair with Alma…
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A perfect example for Greenaway's obsession with numbers, alphabetical orders, Renaissance and (early) Baroque painting - in this case especially Vermeer, but you can also find many references to Brueghel (e.g. in the composition of the flower bouquets) as well as visual reflexions on still lifes, birth, death and decay (the vanitas motif). And the film is the second of six cooperations with composer Michael Nyman.
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?
✺ true maniac and genius Peter Greenaway ✺ Michael Nyman does a great score in this ✺ in terms of freaky-deaky, experimental, snails everywhere, weirdo sex movies, this is my favourite ✺ if you’re into gross time-lapse photography (à la that fox decompossing) this movie is FULL of it ✺ Greenaway masters an aesthetic that i call “classical freaky formalism” – it started with this movie and cinematographer Sacha Vierny
It is interesting how far out of popular cinephilic esteem Mr. Greenaway has fallen over the past few decades. Once highly revered, now a figure of scorn. It would seem the diminishing quality of his work speaks to this. Were we all wrong in the 90s? As a teenager during that time, Greenaway was unspeakably huge to me, and Zoo was my favorite Greenaway. Does it stand up? Unquestionably. Though I see it w/ new eyes.
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.
Greenaway's movies are like the cliched and oft-parodied conception of an "art film." Bloated with self-importance and pretentiousness, and unbearably bogged down in its own arrogance. Greenaway has no respect for the people who actually watch his movies, and has even admitted so. There is nothing challenging or intellectual about this piece of (albiet pretty to look at) garbage. Watch a Resnais film instead.
an odd and irritating piece of cinema. on hand, it was a compositional masterpiece, like a painting and incredibly Fellini and Godard inflected. But on the other hand, greenaway tries to force his ideas and beliefs down the throat of the audience and i totally reject and despise that element of this film. in this manner, it is easy to see why the great Jarman disliked these films so much. such a patchwork effort.