In 1600, the Dutch engraver and printer Goltzius tells of his adventures to find finance to afford a new printing press to print illustrated books, when he travelled to Colmar in Alsace on his way to Italy in the winter of 1590….
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Sex. Art. Commerce. Discuss. Familiar themes (almost sub-headings with this director); different contexts; a return to Greenaway's overlapping masque-like mode. It's a visually stimulating essay on questions (draw your own answers) of representation, depiction and convention, notably of sex - which sells apparently. Same old, same old - in a few senses here - but it's a thrilling, often anti-clerical, whirl.
This dizzying mix of "Prospero's" multi-media phantasmagoria & "Mâcon's" Brechtian dissertation on voyeurism is also Greenaway's clearest statement on the nature of cinema & its roots in picture-making & performance. In this conception, Goltzius becomes a prototypical-moviemaker struggling against financiers, critics & censorship to achieve a vision every bit as daring, creative & confrontational as the film itself.
Greenaway can be great and he can be awful. In this case he's great, teasing away at hypocrisy about taboos and the 'limits of liberality'. It is timely(since Enlightenment values are under attack across the globe), astute and amusing. Droll and beautifully composed (his 'cinema of image') with typical humour on show; my favourite line being the exasperated Margrave expostulating "dynastic pawns don't fall in love!"