In these twenty-one interviews, filmmaker Peter Greenaway
expresses his film aesthetic and discusses his combat with the
dominant Hollywood style of filmmaking. His films have run
unmistakably against the main current of present cinematic
practice, from the short film "Windows" in the mid-seventies, to
his more popular but nonetheless challenging films such as "A Zed
and Two Noughts" and "The Pillow Book" in the nineties.
In this collection the ever-controversial Greenaway discusses
his philosophies of film, art, aesthetics, literature, and reality,
criticizing and even condemning the standard fare of what he calls
Hollywood cinema. For him such films tell stories or they translate
literature with its linear narrative onto a medium that he feels
should be preeminently visual. He finds that, instead of
foregrounding the image and the composition of visual elements as
in the long history of painting, Hollywood-style directors seem
mesmerized by the "and then and then" narrative.
In these provocative interviews Greenaway tells of his ambition
to make cinema a medium based more on image than on narrative. He
explains his painterly approach in such films as "Prospero's Books"
and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," defends his use
of total nudity of both sexes, and declares that traditional
literary-based cinema is dead. He believes that the most creative
imaginations, the most innovative technologies, and the greatest
financial resources are being devoted to television and the
Internet and that Hollywood moviemaking is no longer in the
"If you go into the basilica of St. Peter in Rome," he says,
"and sit through a service near the high altar of Bernini, you will
experience a synthesis of stone, light, music, incense. It is a
form of total art, which is what the cinema of the 20th century was
supposed to be, even if it only rarely lives up to this ideal."
Vernon Gras is a professor of English and cultural studies at
George Mason University. Marguerite Gras was a legislative research
staffer at the U.S. House of Representatives, 1974-1991.
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