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BAFTA A Life in Pictures: Peter Greenaway

14 April 2016
Event: Life in Pictures with Peter GreenawayDate: 13 April 2016Host: Ian Haydn Smith

Read the full transcript from BAFTA A Life in Pictures: Peter Greenaway

Ian Haydn Smith: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name’s Ian Haydn Smith and I’d like to welcome you to this Life in Pictures with Peter Greenaway. Film, art and literature, I think can have as indelible an impact on youth as a really great teacher. I say that because I used to steal a portable television set from my parents when I was young on a Monday night to take upstairs and watch The Prisoner at nine o’clock, which, and Channel 4 had not been going that long. What I really relished was an hour later at 10 o’clock, a whole series of American films from the 1970s, and I gorged on them. That season ended, I had no awareness that it had ended, and this film came on, I was expecting an American film, and it was set some time a couple of hundred years ago in Britain, and was strange, beguiling and one of the most fascinating things that I’d ever seen. It was The Draughtsman’s Contract, the breakthrough film by Peter Greenaway. In 2014 Peter Greenaway was awarded the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, and it reflected a lifetime of original work across features, non-fiction, documentary, shorts and television, as well as gallery installations. To watch a Peter Greenaway film is to witness a unique, visually dazzling, often ground-breaking and frequently provocative world unfolding before our eyes. Let’s see an example of that work.

[Clip plays]

Can you please welcome Peter Greenaway.


Let’s start with the beginning; Walthamstow School of Art. You studied art there, what prompted or inspired you to move into film?

Peter Greenaway: If I can give you a glib answer, an Italian journalist asked me several weeks ago, “Why is it, Mr Greenaway, you started your career as a painter, and now you are a filmmaker?” And I very quickly said, “I was always disappointed that paintings didn’t have soundtracks.” You know we all have definitions, don’t we, of what cinema should be, what it ought to be, what it should have been, how it should have you know organised its perspectives differently. I don’t know, I suppose there are many ways to define cinema as there are people in this audience. But I do feel you know very disenchanted about the cinema we’ve now got, but I think you know there’s no good moaning and complaining, we have to do something about it, rather like Mr Eisenstein did in 1931.

IHS: And we’re going to come onto Eisenstein a little late. I read one story that you were an avid fan of The Seventh Seal, and watched it something like ten times over the course of one week.

PG: That’s right, I’ve even got my own 35mm copy of it, but I don’t have a 35mm projector.

IHS: So holding it up actually becomes a very long film.

PG: It helps.

IHS: Just stay with your relationship with cinema, let’s say what we would call conventional cinema, mainstream cinema, as you were studying art. Was your desire to make films just, was it a reaction to that landscape?

PG: Well, when I went to art school I had no idea at all that I would possible end up as a filmmaker. There was nothing particularly in my family background that suggested indeed that I should be interested in any sort of visual language, but I’d come from a family of people who have a great interest in natural history. My father was a very good, but amateur ornithologist, my grandfather was a rose grower, my great grandfather looked after deer in Epping Forest. These people weren’t, you know, by any means moneyed and didn’t have, they didn’t have particular book knowledge, but they had a great sort of observational excitement about the natural world, and I picked it up by osmosis, hardly directly. And I was always rather concerned about the sort of iffy morality of the natural world, and I thought at the tender age of 13 or 14 that maybe if I were to become a draughtsman or to become a painter I could somehow fix this. I could sort of establish it and give it a sense of permanence. And I rather suspect, though I have to be careful because you know this is all intellectual hindsight here, maybe I’m inventing too much, but there is a way that I think those are the beginnings of why indeed I wanted to be, why I wanted to be a painter indeed.

IHS: And what about the influence of literature, because to watch the early short films that you made is to see the influence of writers like Italo Calvino and Borges, but you’ve also said at the same time, if you want to write for film become a novelist.

PG: Yes, I always think, and this is probably a very unpopular thing to say, that all film writers should be shot. We do not need a text-based cinema; you know we need an image-based cinema. You know it says in the Old Testament, “In the beginning was the word...”, sorry, that’s wrong. “In the beginning was the image.” And you know, and I think cinema understands this, I suppose this quandary, because it always, always, always goes back to the bookshop for its content. Obvious example, you know Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, but everybody else from Almodovar to Godard to Eisenstein, we have created a cinema where a producer has to be satisfied with a text first before he will give you the money. I think that’s you know rather unfortunate. It wasn’t necessarily the ambition of all those French and Belgian apologists of the 1910s and 1920s, people like Bazin for example who said that cinema was really no more than an unsatisfactory combination of the theatre and literature, and if you’re very lucky one or two paintings. Because there is a way, you know I’m sure you won’t agree, or we can find an argument that is to say we have a text-based cinema, every single film you’ve ever seen starts life with a text. And text has so many opportunities, you know for 8000 years we’ve had lyric poetry, for 400 years we’ve had the novel, theatre hands its meaning down in text. Let’s find a medium whose total, sole responsibility is the world as seen as a form of visual intelligence, and surely, surely, surely the cinema should be that phenomenon.

IHS: The BFI a couple of years ago released two volumes of your early work, and you wrote an essay inside, and the opening of one of the essays, you write, “There’s a body of work from 1963 to 1980 that precedes The Draughtsman’s Contract, my first true narrative feature film, that gives evidence of a painter thinking he could possibly be a filmmaker.” But having watched these films over the course of the last month or so, some of them again, some of them for the first time, it’s very interesting because I, I don’t look at it as an aspiring filmmaker or someone sort of on that journey, I see this the work of a bona fide filmmaker who is employing montage to fantastic degree, experimental degree. But I, it’s interesting that you see yourself still on that journey when looking at those films.

PG: Well you’re right, I make very, very artificially, very solidly made, self-consciously edited films. I think you can see that all the way through, great concern about notions indeed of Eisenstein montage, and the dynamic that exists between image, following image, following an image. And I sincerely believe that probably, certainly now in 2016, the king of cinema, the most potent manipulator is the editor. You might have said what 20, 30 years ago it was the cameraman, but basically now an editor can do anything with a picture, with the digital revolution you can transmogrify, you can metamorphise any image into any other image. And so the power of the editor it seems to me is extraordinarily strong and getting stronger, but in a way in the digital age you know, maybe the most powerful sort of manipulators, gatekeepers are indeed editors of any sort. The huge mass of material that’s now available needs sorting out, it needs classifying, it needs collating, it needs to be put and shaped into some sort of formula, so I think the disciplines of an editor whether indeed he’s playing with pictures or music or indeed text is very, very important. Again, if I may dare to mention so early in this combination, my great hero Eisenstein. Eisenstein was a brilliant film editor, and I think it certainly shows.

IHS: It’s interesting you say about the amount of, the wealth of material that’s out there. Shortly before he died, Arthur C. Clarke said the one thing he didn’t think about with the coming of the internet was that there would be too much information. It strikes me that with your cinema, you love the idea of perhaps too much, because it allows you to go in any direction.

PG: Well yes, and of course it is, or can be, and not only a backhanded compliment, but it can be a big criticism. You know, “Too much Mr Greenaway, too much! Cool down,” you know. “Find economy, find other ways of operating.” But you know the capacity for the human imagination to embrace this huge amount of material, I think is very, very valid and very legitimate and very honourable and very creditable. Let’s get out there and use this huge amount of material. I believe sincerely it makes for any sort of exciting art, and certainly for exciting cinema.

IHS: Let’s go back to your early days, I think you had work experience at the BFI which led to you working for the Orwellian sounding Central Office of Information.

PG: That is true.


PG: The British Politburo yes.

IHS: Could you talk about your experiences on that and how that fed into the work that followed.

PG: Well, you probably know the COI was sort of a continuation of, the Crown Film Unit was responsible I suppose to oppose Goebbels for British propaganda, for activities, very sensibly, very creditably for the Second World War. But I think, you know it employed extraordinary people like Auden and Benjamin Britten, and really high class people, not necessarily associated with cinema, but with all the arts. But when the war was over there was a problem here; how do you justify this propaganda arm? And about that sort of time Macmillan was breaking up the colonial empire of Great Britain, and supporting all the television stations of the world which were opening in Canada and Australia and certainly, well, all the other places you name them. So the COI became responsible for providing I suppose you know basic information to fulfil the high demands of all this new sort of television, which meant that a huge amount of material was being generated, magazine programmes, most of it shot on 16mm, and most of it black and white, and most of it television structured. But for me that was an extraordinary opportunity to cut huge amounts of material over and over and over and over again. And I did my duty as an assistant editor sweeping the trims off the floor, and gradually of course I was given more and more responsibilities and ultimately actually made films for the COI. But it was propaganda, it was propaganda certainly. Okay, let’s call it soft porn propaganda if you like, we were in the business of you know advertising The Beatles and showing the world how brilliant the punk order was etc, etc, and I’m pretty certain that I committed some really terrible sins in hindsight about proselytising completely the wrong things, not that I had those decisions to make, but I certainly followed them through. So it was a period of intense learning, learning, learning, and the ability indeed to make shall we say good propaganda and bad propaganda. And let’s face it, good propaganda makes good art. We might complain about Eisenstein being in the hands of Stalin to create notions of Soviet communism, but let’s take Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, isn’t the Sistine Chapel an extraordinary piece of propaganda for Roman Catholicism?

IHS: Fair enough.


We’ll come back to things that you learnt at the COI, but we’re going to go into the first clip now which is an early scene from The Draughtsman’s Contract and what I love about the film watching it again is the blurring of the line between sort of documentary form and fiction. This opens with the contract being agreed, and then we see the first perspective being set up.

[Clip plays]


Can you talk about the genesis of this film?

PG: When I was art school we were taught that you should paint what you see and not paint what you know. That might sound rather elitist for a general audience, but it’s an interesting notion which can be philosophically pushed in all sorts of different directions, and you just see that exemplified by that little speech. And that’s obviously a conundrum that’s been part I suppose of European cinema for at least 2000 years, and it comes and goes doesn’t it, you know the pendulum of painting every now and again becomes extremely theatrical, and then moves back again to realism, and then swings back again. And I think you know that sort of confounding principle would be very interesting as regards notions of cinema. If you think about it, cinema really has been pursuing notions of realism for 120 years. What a waste of time. God has already made the world, why are we trying to reproduce it? But that is the way isn’t it? But I mean that could in general terms be described as what we’ve been doing with painting for at least maybe two or three thousand years. All that extraordinary post-renaissance painting, the desire to get it right, you know to learn anatomy and perfect it, to understand the notions of portraiture and the glance, to be able to understand and perceive the world, to try and get a facsimile of what the world is like down as a representation. But you know it wasn’t until probably what somebody like Monet around about 1961 said ‘to hell with all that, let’s play with the notions of painting for its own sake.’ After those experiments, of course, we enter the greatest century that painting has ever known which of course begins I suppose with I don’t know, Mondrian and Kandinsky, and we’re off into abstract expressionism, and to hell with the desire to make things real. And so the whole phenomenon which was a huge of course revolution, which a lot of people have a great difficulty dealing with, is this notion of the disappearance of figuration. Now what we have to do is get rid of narrative in cinema.

IHS: So in terms of this being your first narrative feature film, and throughout much, most, if not all of your narrative feature films there is this sense of artificiality, that we’re made aware that we are constantly watching a film. Working with actors for the first time, and working with actors since, how do you negotiate this artificial space with them as opposed to the desire to embody the person they’re playing?

PG: Well you know, and you know, and I know that actors are always the loose cannon. Very, very difficult to be able to control them completely in the way that you can organise a costume, or indeed an animal, or indeed a field of grass.

IHS: This is becoming very Hitchcockian in a conversation.

PG: And I suppose, but then you know feature film cinema, fictional cinema without actors is very, very arid. Just think of all the abstract films you’ve seen, and they’re extremely boring, yes?

IHS: True.

PG: So you’ve got to find some way of negotiating and making this all sort of work. I remember that the actor who played Mr Neville in the image you’ve just seen, after the film was presented he said, “Yes, very nice film Mr Greenaway, but where am I?” So there was a way that maybe my cinema was not the ideal sort of performance stage for actors. But on the other hand, apart I think from Alec Guinness who refused to work with me - that was because of my religious opinions - there was a way that no other actor has refused to come and work with me again, so there are certain sorts of opportunities and possibilities that people would find very advantageous to them, and certainly to the film, in my cinema-making practice. Because I remember I, you know there’s a way that when I would create a composition and I want somebody’s hand there and they dare to move it, you know we stop and start again. You know I want your hand there and it has to stay there, which of course you know can be very dictatorial and etc, etc, but I’m interested in making compositions, and I’m interested in making extremely well-wrought, balanced picture-making. That doesn’t mean to say it has to be classical, it can be you know Dionysian, it doesn’t always have to be Apollonian, but there is this great concern to get you the audience to look at the goddamn picture. Don’t get de-hooked by getting involved in all these other sorts of activities, one of which is performance.

IHS: And is the other camera movement?

PG: Well a lot of these movies, you know we hardly ever move the camera. It’s going back to that Italian again, you know this is paintings with soundtracks, and on the whole paintings don’t move.

IHS: Dare I even bring up the idea of narrative, but it strikes me, this film is very much a deconstruction of a genre. It’s essentially a murder mystery, in perhaps the same way that your previous film The Falls is a disaster movie, and that is pushing the definition of disaster movie quite far. I’m just curious about your desire to react against the precepts of genre, and a reaction against mainstream cinema, to sort of rebel.

PG: That is true, I think that maybe you ought to bring us onto this notion again, the COI after all you know was meant to be a documentary unit, and in a documentary you’re supposed to tell the truth. I mean, what on Earth is the truth? You know if you take history for example there’s no such thing as history, there’s only historians. History’s unvisitable, you cannot go back and check anything out. And since we don’t even use visual information for history so very often, we base our examination of history on text, and we all know from Julius Caesar to Winston Churchill that all historians are liars. You know the idea, you know the famous, I suppose most famous English history is given as Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, great classic, beautifully written, but really it’s not really about the Roman Empire, it’s really about the British Empire, and Gibbon was deliberately using the uses of history to say something to his fellow travellers at the particular time he was writing. And I think this sort of vested interest, nobody writes history if you like totally in a sense objectively, the idea is not to do that. And I think you know we always, again let’s mention Julius Caesar and mention Winston Churchill again, they’re very good writers, they aren’t necessarily good historians, which leads us, I don’t know who said it, but essentially you know history’s only a branch of literature. Write this large: what are the differences in a sense between documentary and a feature film? And I think ever since those times, what I’m talking now about were early 1980s, we’ve seen this increase and increase and increase, I think it’s very important that we should break the barriers down between these rather sort of neat journalistic sort of appreciations and not worry about these definitions any more. I’ve always really objected, you know the word documentary implies a document, but we’re making something which is not supposed to be about text, so all the contradictions. But then again you know all the best people are interested in contradictions aren’t they, that’s what makes the world go around, so let’s exploit those. But two years before we made The Draughtsman’s Contract we made two films; one was called Act of God, which was about people who had been struck by lightning and survived; and the other was called The Falls, which you’ve mentioned, which was a rambling history about I suppose the metamorphosis of people into birds. Now they were obviously, supposedly regarded that horrible word as ‘mockumentaries’, don’t like that word, but you can understand what’s meaning. But the strange thing was, although I was scrupulous about recording the people who’d been really struck by lightning and survived, and as far as I could ever make it I made it as truthful as possible, and nobody believed it. But The Falls which was completely and absolutely a theatrical fiction, people were far more prepared to believe that, so the notion is I suppose you believe what you want to believe despite the evidence. And this is I suppose an attitude that’s followed through a lot of my filmmaking. The Draughtsman’s Contract really is a sort of documentary about 1694, about the Married Women’s Property Act, about the way people wore costumes, about the antagonism of Protestants against Catholics, it’s almost a history lesson again. And it’s also highly, highly colour-coded, so really it’s rather like you know a Whistler painting, you know a Nocturne in blue, green and yellow, whatever else there are three colours there, it’s basically green, white and black. These formal concerns, which continually always excited me, are as much important for me in the manufacture of this movie as anything you might presuppose about notions of revenge-tragedy or ideas of the thriller. And also of course, in total, it’s a story about a frame-up, and the frame is absolutely essential, heretofore in the history of the cinema we’ve made so far.

IHS: We’re going to move on two films to a film that you made in 1985, sorry a film you made in 1987, The Belly of an Architect. If we can show this clip, please.

[Clip plays]


This was the second film of yours that I saw, the first I saw in the cinema. It was an arthouse cinema in Wales, and there was a couple in front of me, and the guy was goading his girlfriend into going to see it, and his argument was, “No, no, you’ll love it, it’s got the guy who plays the sheriff in the first Rambo film in it.” She’s going to be surprised.

PG: No it is strange, we made the film in Rome, and Brian Dennehy was constantly harassed by people who wanted his signature.

IHS: I don’t know why but watching it recently, of the body of work that you produced, ad you directed in the 1980s, this struck me as the most intimate and personal film that you made. Am I wrong in that or…

PG: No, but I don’t want to you know overload you with private indulgences. It’s the portrait of my father, and there is a way in which there are many, many resonances which were relative to his life and represented by indeed the character that was played by Brian Dennehy. So it was a very, very personalised film, yes. I think the audience have to understand the guy’s dying of stomach cancer, and this is the doctor who is playing analogies and allegories and association with the famous Roman emperors.

IHS: The other thing that struck me watching it again is the way that you look at the role of the architect, perhaps the most important or relevant artist in our everyday life. Would you agree or…

PG: The major one, you know architecture’s supposed to be the first of all the arts which shelters everything else, you’re absolutely right, yes.

IHS: And just in terms of getting this film made, and prior to this you made A Zed & Two Noughts, following it you made Drowning by Numbers, was it easy to, because watching these films they are a singular vision. And there are other filmmakers I’ve seen that as I watch the films unfold I think there’s a lot of compromises here, but these films seem so uncompromising. As a result of the success of The Draughtsman’s Contract, was it easy to get these films made?

PG: No, you know the first film, in a curious way it’s easy to make the first film because nothing’s gone before and nothing, you can’t judge anything by anything. But I mean the films that follow that first success become more and more difficult because they expect you, audiences expect you to make ‘Son of Draughtsman’s Contract’, and you know ‘Belly of an Architect: Part Two’, and I didn’t want to do that at all. I wanted to you know have certain pursuits, and I think the vocabulary’s getting laid down in these first three films, but it needed to be tacked, I needed to tack in different directions. I wasn’t going to go on making the same film over and over again. And I think you know it’s obviously important to be able, not only for myself, but for audiences to show there’s development going on here.

IHS: And obviously this is a subject we probably don’t have enough time to go into in any great depth, but the concepts of numeracy in your films; we’ve got the 12 drawings in Draughtsman’s Contract, the eight stages of Darwinian evolution in The Zed & Two Noughts, not to mention the play with numbers in Drowning by Numbers.

PG: Well again I think, perhaps we’ve already touched on this, I am very, very doubtful about narrative in cinema, because I don’t think if I were to ask any member of the audience here to tell me the story of the sinking of Titanic, tell me the story of Casablanca, okay, you would probably give me something in two or three seconds, maybe a few more seconds if you were particularly fascinated by these films, but you would soon dry up because in a curious way the story’s not important. What we remember and what we are engaged, particularly in a cinematic experience, is some amazing connection between happenstance, performance, maybe colour-coding, a piece of music, a particular thing that only cinema can reproduce. And that doesn’t hang, I don’t believe, that doesn’t hang at all upon any desires for storytelling. Sequence, yes, you know notions again of editing, ideas about space and time, but narrativity, no. So I wonder why we all spend so much time and effort in creating a writers’ cinema when we have no business doing it? And I sincerely believe if we got rid of that notion of being slaved to the bookshop, which we are, we really I believe have to cut that umbilical cord and allow cinema to run free away from the enslavement of narrative. Now I know that’s very difficult for a lot of people to understand, because an awful lot of people deliberately go to the cinema to be told a story, but I believe cinema is far more valuable than simply to be a vehicle for storytellers.

IHS: Let’s jump forward to the late 1980s and for a film that for many people defined Britain in the 1980s. This is the beginning of the climactic scene from The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

[Clip plays]


It’s probably a good time to talk, you mentioned earlier about the role of editors today and saying in the past it was cinematographers. This is such a stunning example of your collaboration with Sacha Vierny who you began working with on Zed & Two Noughts, and all the way through to 8 ½ Women. Could you talk about your collaboration process, and particularly in terms of this film.

PG: Well Sacha Vierny, Russian by origin, living most of his life in Paris, had worked with mainly a great cinematic hero of mine, who would be Alain Resnais, who made Last Year in Marienbad which I think is the greatest European movie ever made. And he’d also worked with Bunuel and lots of other you know sort of post-Nouvelle Vague filmmakers like Robbe-Grillet and Marguerite Duras and so on. So extremely well-seasoned, I think he was an assistant way back before indeed the Second World War and had worked on Testament d’Orphee by Cocteau. So his, you know his roots in cinematic, French cinematic history were very, very profound. Extremely wise man, sometimes a little difficult to get on with, still a communist. He was always the one that cried havoc when people weren’t being paid properly, good for him. And indeed we did, we did work on about, well probably about ten or 12 films, not necessarily always feature films. He has a thousand tricks, all sorts of tricks which most people had forgotten. You know how to outline with white chalk the edges of all staircases so you can see them very clearly under conditions of low light, great ideas about you know how to distinguish vermillion from crimson with the light. Very, very quick on very, very small resources. We made a film called The Baby of Mâcon, and we took over a huge cathedral in Amsterdam, and he lit it with about four candles, and it worked extraordinary. In fact, he said, “Whilst you’re lighting it you can read the newspaper, but only take page four because I’m going to need page two as a reflector for the candles. So you could see also his wryness as well, but he followed it up you know, he really did deliver with you know all his ideas and his theories. Unfortunately, he died about ten years ago, but he educated if you like both me, myself, and also a brilliant Dutch cameraman, who we’ve been working together now for about I suppose, well ever since he died, a man called Reinier van Brummelen. I think that Sacha Vierny would have had a lot of problems with the digital revolution, he was a really dyed in the wool sort of studio studio cameraman. But we did do crazy things like we took artificial lights out into the real landscape and tried to compete with God’s sun, you know crazy, crazy ideas. But just some rather fascinating ideas. You mentioned the film Zed & Two Noughts, we actually drew up a list, 26, because it’s all based on the alphabet, 26 different ways to light a set. Now that sounds rather dryly sort of academic, but it was good, and we fulfilled. You know we lit by dawn, by midnight, by candles, by cathode tubes, and I think we even lit by rainbows. We didn’t manage to light by starlight, that’s a bit difficult, probably you can do it now but you couldn’t do it back in the early 1980s. So he obviously had an academic turn of mind and he was interested in language for its own sake, so I do believe we got on very well.

IHS: And looking at this film, did you talk a great deal about the actual coding of…

PG: Yes, of course I have to bring in the art department here as well, you know the whole film is based on the seven colours. The kitchen is green because that’s the jungle where all the food came from, the restaurant is red because it represents meat-eating and cannibalism and so on and so on, and we tread it all the way through. And just to make people very, very self-conscious, and we were playing with colours here, Helen Mirren when she walked through a door she changes colour like a chameleon with the circumstances and the scenario, so that was a sort of really interesting idea to pursue and fun to pursue.

IHS: Let’s move on to, and in many ways an even wilder, more daring experiment. I remember in 1990 watching on Channel 4 A TV Dante, and being surprised and confronted by what I thought was an absolutely remarkable piece of television. The following year, I think there was just a segment of Prospero’s Books screened at Cannes and a lot of critics came away saying it was by far the best film that screened at Cannes that year. So let’s see the opening few minutes of Prospero’s Books.

[Clip plays]


I think it’s wonderful the way that John Gielgud threw himself into this. My assumption was this was a project initiated by you, but he had much more involvement in that if I’m not mistaken.

PG: Well, Gielgud always reckoned that Shakespeare had written The Tempest for him, I mean it’s an incredibly wordy part, full of the most extraordinary, beautiful language. And you know we can say this can’t we in the year 2016 when everybody’s celebrating indeed, celebrating, can you celebrate, more realising the death of Shakespeare. But would you not agree that most films about Shakespeare are normally done by actors who see a huge opportunity to put their performance on everlasting screen. You know theatrical performances come and go and only exist in the memory, and you know you can think of a whole host of people, Laurence Olivier, etc, etc, etc, who did that. And I think that Gielgud always, always, always wanted to make a film of indeed Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest, and he was completely over the moon that we could find an opportunity to make it. And we did it in a particular way insofar as Gielgud himself played all the parts, he voiced everybody, he even voiced Miranda his daughter. And that was in a sense you know, there used to be a theory that, well maybe it still exists in some people’s minds, that The Tempest is Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre, so it was a summation of everything I think that Gielgud had thought he’d done. So when you ask that question, because he wanted to do it so much he gave everything.

IHS: And in terms of, I just wonder, looking at the chronology of your films, you have this, then it’s followed by The Baby of Mâcon, then we move to The Pillow Book. And it struck me watching these films in order again recently, of this desire to move away to do something new, and then you look throughout the 1990s that you have your immense project the Stairs, you work more in galleries, and it’s almost a broadening of, not necessarily your horizons, but the physical horizons of what you’re actually physically doing.

PG: Well I became very disenchanted by cinema, and you can see intimations of how I feel about cinema now. I just didn’t feel it was really satisfactorily understanding and developing its premises of the 1920s as a meta medium for extraordinary inroads and excitements, not in prose but in poetry. And I don’t know, I always felt very I suppose frustrated that I couldn’t push it forward, and so the notion of cinema became part of a bigger world. And you’re absolutely right, I began to explore all the other sort of, I made a couple of operas, I had a lot of painting shows, and we had a huge project about the vocabulary of cinema which we made in big city exhibitions, one was in Geneva, one was in Trieste, one was in Munich, really big sort of state products costing a huge amount of money to make an examination if you like about the vocabulary of cinema from the outside. But these things of course could only be seen by limited audiences, and they were very much in situ, you had to be there. I got very excited about the notion of, what’s the Latin phrase, it means, what does it means, you know the sense of place, and I became very frustrated about places like this, you know the falsity of the cinematic imagination and so on. I suppose that’s why I started making operas and we had you know operas in Verona, in the bars of Caracalla, so it was an attempt I suppose to shall we say use the reality of the world rather than its fictional representation in cinema. However, we made this huge project called The Tulse Luper Suitcases, a really massive project, cost an awful lot of money. It was an enormous success at film festivals in the world, I think it went to over 300 film festivals, but it was an absolute failure in the cinema. And I think that was because we could see what was going to happen with the digital revolution, and I was somehow hoping ridiculously to embrace what we all take for granted now, so that there’s a way that you the audience could intervene, you could stop and you could start and you could select. And if you were only interested in the colour red you could just select the red shots, if you were only interested in the chase you could just watch the chase, if you didn’t like to see people kissing you could get rid of them. So there was a way, it was really massive interactive cinema, but the technology didn’t exist, audiences weren’t ready, and the total film in a public sense never made it.

IHS: But Tulse Luper is a fascinating character across the whole of your career. If you go back to your short films, A Walk Through H, Vertical Features Remake, he appears in The Falls, and then we have the three features made a decade ago. What is it about this character, it seems too easy to just say it’s the cinematic alter ego of Peter Greenaway.

PG: Well you have to say it, though.

IHS: I just said it. I can say it again.

PG: That was, you know obviously but with a fictionalisation of myself I could travel to areas where I could never do it in real life. You know he had all sorts of exciting sexual adventures which have not been inside my experience, and all sorts of other you know activities of impossibility. So it was an extension if you like of what I thought you know the cinema-maker, and I suppose being very exhibitionist and very I suppose lese majeste is where I posited myself. And maybe it’s no accident that ever afterwards I’ve attempted, you know with films about Vermeer, films about Goltzius, films about Rembrandt, and now films about Eisenstein, to posit who this magnificent creature should be, heaven forbid that it should even remotely be called Greenaway. But it was an example of searching for the real sort of mega possibilities of what the seventh art could have been.

IHS: Let’s actually move onto Rembrandt and your 2007 film Nightwatching. We’re going to see the j’accuse moment from that film.

[Clip plays]


PG: You see, it’s really The Draughtsman’s Contract all over again. But I did the drawings for The Draughtsman’s Contract, and Rembrandt did the paintings for Nightwatching. It’s the same plot.

IHS: My first viewing of this, my first reaction was, it was some kind of riposte to Amadeus, where you have this genius who’s a child, but that was full of affectation. What I found fascinating about this, and in a way it goes back to my fascination with Belly of an Architect, that you can hold the artist up high but they are a human being, and rather than have high art, low art, you bring the levels down and move them up until you’re just portraying a life.

PG: You’re right, and I think again, since you’re going to talk about Eisenstein before long…

IHS: We are.

PG: It’s the same situation again. I live in Amsterdam, and they’re very pragmatic people the Dutch, and I did a big series, and we’re still working on it called Nine Classic Paintings Revisited, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam allowed me to project on this paining. Now this painting is uninsurable, just after the Second World War the Marshall Plan bailed Holland out of its terrible economic disasters after the Nazis had destroyed the country. And the Dutch were getting way behind in their interest payments, but the incumbent American president said, “Okay, okay Holland, we will forgive you, you don’t have to pay any more money for what you owe us if you give us Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.” And they said, “No way, absolutely no way.” It’s a very important painting because it’s all about you know the fight and sort of, and David and Goliath against the powerful forces indeed of Germany during the Second World War. But I mean there is a way that also the Dutch regard Rembrandt as the car mechanic up the road, you know he’s very good, his wife’s extremely good with money and looks after him very well, and he knows you know how to organise his canvas etc. But he’s like us you know, he shits in the toilet and you know he has to sleep eight hours at night, so it’s a very pragmatic thing. And we’ve tried to do always to have that sense of mortality, mortality, mortality. So these great ambitions you know to expand and create meta cinema, I know they’re doomed to fail. It’s like you know we’re all making massive attempts to organise the world, but you know it’s hubris isn’t it, you know we are pushing, we’re fighting the Gods to do the impossible. It’s important, we should do it though, we have to keep doing it, we have to keep doing it, but we know we’re going to fail, and in a curious way all these great geniuses are part and parcel of that same phenomenon, as indeed was Mr Eisenstein.

IHS: And you keep doing it because thousands will be turning out in the UK this weekend to see Eisenstein in Guanajuato, your new film, which we’re going to come onto. Between Nightwatching and the new film, you made Goltzius and the Pelican Company which is a continuation of the ‘Dutch Masters’ project. And I strongly recommend that people see that, it’s a beautiful film. But let’s move onto Eisenstein, perhaps start with a clip and then we can talk about the new film.

[Clip plays]


PG: You said earlier on, and I really applaud you for saying it, is that when you watch a Greenaway film you know you’re only watching a film. And all the devices that are going on here which are ridiculously you know non-realistic, is an indication again of that vocabulary. A vocabulary which I believe Eisenstein himself showed the way, and it’s certainly for me very self-conscious, very artificial, but then don’t you agree cinema is about the most artificial medium you can ever think of.

IHS: But something that comes out of watching this film, and I see it in so much of your work, is a passion to share your passion and your knowledge. It’s perhaps glib to say to educate people, but there is this sense that this is a great person, this is a great artist, please go and watch his work. These great painters, go and see these paintings. There’s something beautiful about a passion sort of just glowing in a way off the screen.

PG: Well it is true. I daren’t say and talk about missionary positions do I, which is a bit of a problem, but there is a, you know these are extraordinary people who have you know touched the top of the possibilities of our civilisation, and they should be I sincerely believe looked at and learnt from and revered. You know I hold the rather strange maybe position that I think the most important people in the civilisation of the world are painters. That might be rather strange for a lot of people who might think that painting is a rather elitist private occupation, but painters create the manmade world. Let me tell you an anecdote, Giacometti, Italian-Swiss, said, “And I don’t wish to malign your grandmother, but your grandmother probably knows nothing about Picasso, but be absolutely certain that Picasso knows everything about your grandmother.” The way that the trickle-down effect happens with the particular imaginations of people who visualise ideas in the world for the last 8000 years, let’s make it more convenient and go back to the Renaissance, is profound. And when we’re talking about our grandmothers, you know your grandmother’s probably got curtains in her kitchen which has got a design on it, which is influenced by I don’t know, Joe Bloggs, and Joe Bloggs has looked at Utrillo, and Utrillo has looked at Picasso. So you can see how Picasso has influenced in a curious way your grandmother. I mean everything absolutely in this room is designed, and the origin of all this design is painters, so painters have made the manmade world. And I think that’s extraordinary, and I think painters ought to be highly applauded.


IHS: There’s a painter in the audience. I don’t want to come back to narrative, but I do want to talk about drama, and we can look at a Rothko painting which has no narrative, but it has drama. It’s interesting with the scenarios that we’re presented with in your films, and in this case, scenario’s probably the wrong word, the situations with your characters, in this case Eisenstein in Mexico, that they are to some degree in a moment of crisis. And with particular reference to this film I’m curious about Eisenstein and Mexico, what interested you in that moment in his life?

PG: Well, without wishing to be you know pompous in any way, the film is of course about Eros and Thanatos, sex and death. I really bore people to death by going on and on about this, but let me do it one more time. Everybody in the audience, your most important moments in your life is your very beginning and your very ending. Now I don’t know very much about, I know about one or two people in the audience, but most of you I know nothing at all. But there are two factors, two people fucked to make you, and I’m very sorry, you’re going to die. Everything else about your life is really very, very ephemeral, isn’t it? And isn’t that why all art is really about Eros and Thanatos, the very beginning which is unknowable, and the very ending is also unknowable. So it’s no surprise that all culture, all religion, all painting, all cinema, is really basically about these things. And I think really all my movies have been about that you know, you say this clip for example of Belly of an Architect is another way of explaining it. The subjects are infinite, and one can talk about them endlessly, endlessly, and they really are incredibly fascinating. Whether you’re a serial killer or a nun you are interested in sex, and we all know the immortality and the mortality principle, which is maybe why people make art in the first place. So with subject matters like that there’s no end to the permutations and the permutations and the permutations. And again you know there’s a way that Eisenstein is about the self-same thing. He of anybody probably understood, he even as a small boy, I think German doctors suggested he had a heart that wasn’t going to last very long. He did die, I think he died aged about 50, so he didn’t die for very, very long. And he was always very much aware of his mortality, and I think on the other side you know he’s very questionable about his own sexuality, he never really sort of could understand how he could operate emotionally or sexually, and indeed as is exemplified in this film, he falls in love with a young man, his guide in Guanajuato. And the film has a subtitle, you probably know the film October, the big third feature film he made, was sometimes called Ten Days That Shook The World, so the subtitle of our film is ‘Ten Days That Shook Eisenstein’.

IHS: I think sex and death is a good moment to open up to the audience and see if they have any questions. So we have some roving mics, I don’t know if the lights are going to go up but if someone does have a question wave your hand wildly. The man who’s waving his hand wildly there.

Q: I don’t know how to phrase this, but in Freud you’ve got the superego, the ego and the id. Gaston Bachelard Poetics of Space, you’ve got the attic, the place of dreams, and the ground floor with is reality where you might go out and get a package from the postman and connect with the real world, and the basement, which is kind of very dark and primitive and cavemanish. And I’ve always thought The Tempest was like, Ariel is the place of dreams if you like, and Prospero is very realistic and practical and active, and Caliban of course is the caveman unconscious. And I just wondered if, well I would like to know how you perhaps express this in Prospero’s Books?

PG: Yes, how long have we got? I mean what is so amazing about Shakespeare that he fits in the age doesn’t he, the whole you know the sort of anti-colonialism association that became a part and parcel of our understanding of Caliban. The actual suggestion, again I think I’ve mentioned it already, about this being Shakespeare’s last play, and it’s all about reconciliation, it’s about the reconciliation indeed of these Freudian items that you have associated with your question. Eisenstein was fascinated by Freud, I think mainly because Eisenstein was devoted to Leonardo Da Vinci, and you probably know that Freud wrote a paper on Leonardo Da Vinci about a black bird flapping its tail in Leonardo Da Vinci’s wife, which doesn’t have to be pursued too far to understand all sorts of homosexual associations, so he made that identification. But in the film he actually suggests that Freud was very wise by suggesting that all of us need five phenomena in order to make us complete and happy. Let me see if I can remember them. First of all we need our health, without health everything becomes null and void. Second we need work, we are programmed to work, a man or a woman who does not work leaves an empty, fragile, frigid sort of life. The third thing is, okay although an awful lot of stupid people have got money, we need a little sustenance to keep us going, we don’t need a lot of money but we need some money. Now maybe this is a particular masculine thing, but item number four is we need sex, we are incredibly programmed for all sorts of sexual imperatives. And then lastly if we’re very lucky we have love. Let’s go through them again; health, work, money, sex, love. And if you’ve got all those things and they’re all manipulating and working their way through all the superegos and the egos and the ids that you’re talking about, then surely we are profoundly happy. Unfortunately, Freud, Eisenstein wanted to meet Freud, but it didn’t happen. He did meet his daughter, but he never met the man himself. I don’t know whether that remotely offers you any sort of answer, but it’s an implication again you know that polyglot, polymath Eisenstein was certainly aware of all the theories going around. And you know he’s so, I suppose you know the big Californian concern for Freudian psychoanalysis is round about this time, the same time indeed as the invention of sound cinema. And isn’t it always interesting how Freud and cinema have gone along together. Cinema was invented by the Lumiere brothers, so-called, three days before Christmas in 1895. Six days before Christmas, Freud wrote his first paper on female hysteria. Is there a connection? I bet you there’s a connection there, I’ll leave it to you to work out.

IHS: Or the next Peter Greenaway film. Someone here, yes. Yes, there’s a microphone just coming down now. If you could just wait for the microphone, thank you.

Q: Hello, the question is, what particular influence you from the Eisenstein’s movies, because you’ve mentioned him so many times? And let me make a little introduction to the question, because I’m emotionally involved in Russian cinema because my father was assistant of Eisenstein when he was a young boy, and finally he came back to Poland with the Second World War. But I studied film academy, and particular I was focused on the constructivist artist, and watching your film during period I was studying in Poland was communistic time, communistic world, and you was how to say not very popular director and you know presented to the public, but you was presented for the film students that we, all of us we were watching your film really with love and fascination for you, me as well. But thinking about you first time I’ve heard that you are particularly connected with Eisenstein, because for me he was always with your philosophy, with your narration, with erotic world in your movies, you was like Sergei Parajanov, that was my impression.

PG: Well first of all, I have to ask you, you have seen the film Eisenstein in Guanajuato?

Q: All of them.

PG: All of them, oh, I thank you. I have absolutely no doubt that, cinema hasn’t been going very long, 120 years, which is really infancy compared to shall we say 8000 years of European, Western painting. But I do believe that cinema has thrown up very, very few super visionary luminaries, very, very few. You can count them on the fingers of two hands. There have been hundreds and hundreds if not thousands and thousands of filmmakers, but the art is very, very imperfect, very embryonic, very very beginning, and the number of cinematic geniuses shall we say are very, very small. And top of that list I have always, always thought, ever since the tender age of 17, that Eisenstein was number one. He makes a very serious cinema, which certainly in 1927 , 1928, 1929 was not seen anywhere else in the world. A really serious cinema. Okay, he was a vehicle for propaganda for Stalin, but we’ve already argued that great propaganda is great art, great art is great propaganda, consider Michelangelo, so I don’t really have a problem with that. So I think first of all the notion of seriousness, here is a serious filmmaker, and there are really very, very few serious filmmakers I believe. Second, I think there is an enormous sense of incredible cinematic intelligence and poetry about his association. I think it’s related of course to montage theory, and you must know as a student of Eisenstein, montage theory very complicated. Eisenstein breaks it down into nine particular sections and argues it endlessly. I mean he shared the space with Pudovkin and Vertov and Dovzhenko as well, but Eisenstein is the prime pusher and reason. So I have no doubts about putting this man on a very high pedestal, and I think he is an extraordinary I suppose proposition to take note of. And of course I suppose in the 1920s he followed a narrative line, Stalin probably insisted that he did that, but over and above everything else he is I sincerely believe the greatest cinema poet we’ve ever seen. Now I know with your country I’ve gathered enormous amount of favour as we suggested before with The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, because it was like the capitalist fox getting into the communist henhouse. And since Russia you know reads between the lines and it’s very sophisticated politically about notions of Pravda and the truth, the film was incredibly popular in Russia. Fan clubs in Siberia, it went on for some time. But now that I have made a film about Eisenstein, who suggests that indeed he was, in Putin’s homophobic Russia, a homosexual, I have suggestions that I’m an outsider and have no business making pictures, making films about a Russian national hero, and also heaven forbid I’m not even making a film about Eisenstein in Russia, but I’m making a film about Eisenstein in Mexico. Good reasons but for all this, but I think you know that next year is 1917, we’re all going to be memorialising the Russian revolution, and I sincerely believe you know the people just like you have beautifully said on my behalf, and I thank you for that, there is a missionary position here, used in its rightful word, the way that phrase, which is indeed to introduce people, to say, “Look at this! Look at this! Isn’t this fucking marvellous? Aren’t these, don’t these represent the high points of what we as human beings are capable of, or possible of?” So please don’t run away with the idea that I’m remotely detrimental about notions of Eisenstein, but I think the way we’ve made the film is to show how human he is. Very vulnerable, very much related to our physicality if you like. You know; he shits, he pees, he farts. He is petulant, he’s misogynist, he behaves badly, he’s often I suppose you know a betrayer of certain sorts of important sensitivities. But again, I mean let me make really, really a powerful and dangerous comparison. Christianity had to make Christ mortal in order to make him a God. Happy with that answer?


IHS: We have another question. While we’re passing the mic over to that gentleman, something about this film, a couple of years ago the French writer Laurent Binet wrote the kind of novel, biography HHhH, which is about an actual event taking place in the Second World War. And some people were outraged by the fact that on one page he’s recreating what happened with these two incredibly brave people, the next page he’s talking about his current girlfriend. And then he talks about one of the characters, one of the real people in the Second World War waking up in the morning, going down to get their grey coat and putting it on, and he says, “Hold on a minute, how do I know they got up? How do I know it was raining outside? How do I know they went down to get their grey coat?” There is this thing, and again it comes back to this idea of naturalism, we can represent reality, that the pleasure of watching this film is that it sort of does away with that straight away and just tells us, we can’t know exactly what they said at that moment in time. There’s a pleasure in it, and yet it feels oddly that I got more from that than I would reading a biography of Eisenstein.

PG: Well, it’s only 120 minutes long.

IHS: That’s true.

PG: And you know it’s only ten days, a short part of his life, but there is a way, you know we’ve known haven’t we even after a miserable 120 years that cinema is capable of doing this. Unfortunately, we see it so rarely, and it must be encouraged, and I think you are encapsulating all our hopes and ambitions for a cinema we ought to be having.

IHS: Yes.

Q: Many years ago we had a few beers in a pub round the back of Channel 4 when it was on Charlotte Street, and forgive me if I’ve got this wrong because we may have had too many beers, but you told me that the original cut of The Draughtsman’s Contract was five hours long, I think. So the question was, a) was it, and b) what really roughly were the sort of extra three hours?

PG: Well you know, you might know that cinema’s an industry and it’s based upon you audience sitting there and then moving out for the next performance etc, etc, etc. Indeed I do like to you know make very, very long form films, it’s a bit like Japanese Noh drama, you know it’s quite permissible to sit there for three hours and just watch the blossom fall off the tree, you can understand that as a phenomenon. But I don’t know whether you can actually build a cinema upon those sorts of propositions. Indeed there was, I think it was even longer than five hours, it was probably seven hours, and we’ been talking about the difference between the notions of documentary and feature film, and there are intimations I think even in the clip that you saw about consideration of fruit symbolism, games that are being played that Mr Neville always gets it wrong, like we always seem to get things wrong, exemplified when everybody’s dressed in black he comes dressed on white. When he comes on white, everybody’s dressed in black. And all the notions of how we frame one another, and we presuppose you know motives for one another that are never really there. And it’s a big examination, the year is 1694, the Hanoverians are just beginning so William and Mary are on the English throne here, and there’s a whole you know throwing out of Roman Catholicism with the Jesuit Stewarts and the beginnings again of the 19th Century. So this seven hour version had all this stuff in it, arguing, discussing etc, etc, etc. But I mean I could imagine that maybe I might have perhaps with you and two other people.

Q: Very true.

IHS: Yes, down at the front. I gather that, we only saw the signing of the contract, but those familiar with the film will know that we have these series of conversations, sort of talking heads at the beginning. I gather that that was a very extended sequence, it’s beautifully shot.

PG: Yes, Sacha Vierny again, brilliant cinematographer.

Q: Listening to you talk, I sense that you have a certain amount of disdain for modern cinema, generally, and I wondered what influences you and whether how much you do tune into other people’s movies or, and what influences you and how even the feeling of being involved in BAFTA and the whole, being as you do to a certain extent have always sat outside the general realm of movie making.

PG: I’m not a very good cinema spectator, I become very, very impatient very, very quickly. I don’t know whether you’re going to believe me but the last time I actually went into a cinema, you know came into the box office, bought a ticket, sat down in the dark for 120 minutes and stayed there to the bitter end would be David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, that’s a long, long time ago. I still believe that film’s an extraordinary film. But ever afterwards I’ve always you know had these impatiences, it’s related of course to being a practicing filmmaker. I don’t want to watch other peoples’ films; I want to make my own film. But that’s you know, that’s a very understandable phenomenon isn’t it, and often there’s probably no film at all that goes by, however wretched it is, which doesn’t have a few nanoseconds of something really extraordinary, whether that’s conscious or unconscious is another situation. But you know maybe I’m very unforgiving, you know I’m looking for the perfect film, I’m looking for the film that would totally satisfy you know like those 1910, 1920 Belgian and French apologists for cinema being this great art. I obviously have to know probably more about cinema than anybody in this audience, I’m a practicing filmmaker. I have to know about actors, I have to know about technologies, I have to know about mise-en-scène etc, and I do watch an awful lot of cinema, but again I suspect rather like a lot of you I see it in a very fragmentary way on smart phones and DVDs and television, where I have control. I don’t know whether I’ve discussed this with you but as I said, maybe I didn’t say it, but let me say it again at the risk of repeating myself, I believe that cinema died on the 31st September 1983 when the zapper or the remote control was introduced into the living rooms of the world. Bang! Cinema ceases to be passive and becomes active, you the audience are now in some senses in charge of the filmmaking process. You have all got mobile phones, you have all got cam recorders, and you’ve all got laptops, so you’re all filmmakers. Now, unlike in 1983 from a distance on the sofa, you could probably basically turn the cinema on and you could turn the cinema off on your television set, now you have all the tools for remaking Spielberg’s Jurassic World, you can now remake that. We give you Microsoft, and his friends, and relatives, [and we] have given you the ways and means of doing that. So in a sense you know we have undercut some of the really important and first class characteristics of the notions of what cinema was for our fathers and forefathers. Cinema, okay sometimes still it’s an event, but for most of us cinema is not an event anymore. Very few of us, actually, proportionately, actually look at cinema en masse. Okay maybe you’re all good cinephiles, and maybe you do indeed come to BAFTA every third night of the week and you see a film in company. Most people don’t see films in company anymore, and they don’t see them as events. They see them privately, either completely on their own, or with their nearest and dearest in the office, or in the sitting room. So these are big changes in the way we perceive and understand the notion of the cinema of our forefathers. I think filmmakers, and indeed audiences, have to acclimatise themselves to this and reorganise what we really regard as the cinema of the future, and as a consequence make it so.

IHS: And are you, firstly in terms of your own output, but then within the wider landscape of cinema, are you hopeful about the future?

PG: If I complain or if I state that cinema’s dying, and now dying very, very rapidly, I don’t really think it’s a cause for spilt milk or tears. Because as always if you trace back, you know there’s something about the human psyche isn’t there that needs this grand, spectacular phenomenon, and we’ve always had it. The ancient Greeks had extraordinary theatres, the Romans, people like Pompey built the biggest theatres that the world has ever seen. The Roman Catholic church took over and took the notion of spectacle into the church with all its full vocabulary. And I suppose then opera took over, and opera manifests that same satisfying excitement about the audio-visual sensational mise-en-scène. And then I suppose you know opera continued probably till 1918, last few years of the First World War, and more or less 1918 film historians say that’s when opera basically gave up and cinema took over. And now we’ve had 120 years of cinema, maybe that’s long enough. Now we’re looking for the next huge super audio-visual technology which will really empower and satisfy our contemporary imagination, and I think in a curious way we’re all looking for it. I think that Eisenstein’s first masterpiece, Strike, is really the beginning of cinema, the beginnings of cinema intelligence. Cinema was invented in 1895, Strike was made in about 1925, so it has taken 30 years, a long generation, before people understood the new vocabulary of cinema in order to consolidate it, synthesise it, bring it all together, and make the first consolidated masterpiece. If I think cinema died in 1983, we are about 30 years or so right now, somebody maybe in the audience is the next person to make the cinematic Strike, or the post-cinematic Strike for the 21st Century. Please come on up and let’s see it.

IHS: Eisenstein in Guanjuato is on general release on Friday. The Curzon Soho cinema just up the road, Peter Greenaway will actually be conducting a Q&A following a screening of the film. I would say that almost all of Peter Greenaway’s features are available on DVD. If you get a chance to see them in cinema, do, but if you can’t and there are any you haven’t seen I strongly recommend you watch them. If I had recommendations I would go for the bookending films, the BFI’s collection of Peter Greenaway’s early films are a remarkable collection, and more recently Nightwatching, Goltzius and The Pelican Company are also quite stunning films. Thank you very much to BAFTA for organising this event, but most of all can you please join me in thanking Peter Greenaway.

PG: Thank you.


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