Adequate but Irrational Peter Greenaway
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Festival in Media
2018-11-26

 

The 19th Tbilisi International Film Festival will be visited by famous British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, who will hold master classes for the interested audience. The screening of his film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover made in 1989, will also be held.

"Just because you have eyes it doesn't mean you can see" - Peter Greenaway

He's lying full length on the ground. You see his face in a close-up. The sky is blue; the grass is green. You feel that it's warm outside and he's enjoying lying on the ground. A bicycle is leaned at the back and a butterfly is floating near his face. The butterfly which is very common in his films.

As a discipline lover maniac, even there, on his web-site, he has everything arranged symmetrically: films, numbers, insects, catalogs, exhibitions held in different countries, installations...

Peter Greenaway was born on April 5, 1942 in England. He's a film director, screenwriter, artist and curator. He has graduated from Walthamstow College of Art. Since 1964 he's worked as a documentary film editor. In 1966 he started to make his own experimental, short films and documentaries. He's an author and co-author of 15 documentaries, 7 TV films, 37 installations and 46 books.

He refuses the traditional way of storytelling and focuses on painting and symbols. That's why Peter Greenaway's films are somehow canvas on the screen, where numbers of secrets are hidden behind the perfect symmetry. If some of his films remind you a grimacing canvas exhibited in the museum, the others are just like the experimental theater performance. "Generally, I'm against the traditional way of storytelling." - he stated in one of his interviews, - but the fact is that all this stuff needs to be organized and sorted. There are many other ways than the right storytelling. So I make a lot of experiments."

In his point of view, there are only two concerns in this world that deserve art: love and death. They rule the world, keep it alive and at the same time drive human. In his films, love is expressed with sex, nudity, genitalia shot in close-up. As a true post-modernist, he doesn't question the eternal cycle of lust and death, he states the facts and enjoys the process.

He often says that "cinema is dead" and he even announces the date - October 31, 1983 when the remote-control zapper was introduced. He thinks that from that day, the director no more had the right to edit, because the audience was itself able to control the art on screens. The viewer became the director. "Don't worry about the cinema. It's an ephemeral creature which will soon cease to exist. There are 6 branches of art which were always: Architecture, Theater, Music, Sculpture, Literature and Painting. From time to time there happen to be some ephemeral field of arts which use the elements of other arts. After some time, they vanish. The same should happen to the cinema. As the cinema hasn't invented anything."

His art is associated with Barroco direction of cinematography, which began to exist in 70-80s in Britain (Ken Russel, Derek Jarman, Ridley Scott). The main characteristic of this direction, which is most visible with Greenaway, is visual richness and brightness. His films are the explosion of colors, classy costumes, a little strange decorations and provocative images. It's anti-realism. He creates an artificial world on the screen to remind the audience that they're watching a move, not a real life.

The lover of Rembrandt and Vermeer often revisits the paintings on the screen. For him, endless shots and symmetry is very important. As a rule, he's characters are artists: painters, architects, composers, filmmakers, writers.

Drama, The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) is the first feature film of Greenaway which brought a great success to the director. In the film, camera almost never moves and is always static. "No, in this film, the camera moves but maybe only once, during the dinner scene, just to make clear - yes, it can move." "In my films the camera doesn't look down, so that it can "pop-up" right at the nose of the artist. It doesn't follow a hero to the toilet, like in modern movies. If the camera moves, there's supposed to be a serious reason." - says Greenaway.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) - is one of the best known work for the wade masses. The Rolling Stones wrote: "It boasts a full menu: swearing, screwing, stealing, cooking, eating, drinking, burping, choking, vomiting, defecating, punching, kicking and killing. Oh, yes, there's a guy who enjoys reading, but he comes to a bad end."

In the 90s, he started using new ways of film making. Or he started to organize everything made before.

One of the greatest works of Greenaway is The Tulse Luper Suitcases which he calls "social and political manifest of the future cinema". The project was meant to unite 4 feature films, TV show, several web-sites, books and 92 DVDs. The hero of the story is Tulse Luper who's accused for several crimes like spying, murder etc. Greenaway says that he has made this project in response to the new expression language which unites 5 ways of storytelling: cinema, TV, DVD, Internet and Books. It's the synthesis of the new and the old which will prove his thesis : Cinema is Dead, Long Live the Cinema. "My films are the made-up stories of the last 60 years of XX century. The history of the XX century is often associated with the history of atomic bombs. Atomic bomb itself is a chemical element Uranium with the number 92 in Periodic Table of Elements. So the whole film goes around this number 92. 92 artists at 92 suitcases, and the chain of 92 stories". Greenaway can organize and catalog everything - the numbers, the stories, the people.

"Yes, I'm going to make a movie about Rembrandt. He was almost blind in one eye. I think that a painter is better be looking with one eye only, because two eyes perceive the image in scope, which is against the screen and painting which is a two-dimension".Nightwatching (2007) with its decorations, shades and compositions of shots bring Rembrandt's 1642 painting of the same title to life. Though were Rembrandt around today, "he would have been shooting on holograms. He would be post-post-James Cameron." he mentioned.

"For one fleeting evening, Leonardo's venerable "Last Supper" was a multimedia star." - writes The New York Times about the installation held at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Using music, light, computer effects and holograms he made an impressive show of The Secret Supper. He stated in one of his interviews with the Guardian that: "The Secret Supper is like the last moment where He shows his hands and says that one them is chosen to betray. It's a frozen moment of the history. There are three light sources. One of them falls straight to the painting, as we don't know the place, the architectural details where the act is going on. But we suppose that the light comes from the left and described the movement of the sunlight which slowly replaces." As you watch the installation on YouTube, the light coming from here makes you close your eyes, not to go blind.

"I don't feel myself like a filmmaker, I more like a hybrid. I'm interested in expressing ideas with images, in visual ways. I am an image-maker" - Peter Greeneway

 

 

 

 

 

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