Download Peter Greenaway's Postmodern Poststructuralist Cinema PDF

TitlePeter Greenaway's Postmodern Poststructuralist Cinema
PublisherThe Scarecrow Press, Inc.
ISBN 139780810862012
CategoryArts - Film
File Size2.8 MB
Total Pages441
Table of Contents
Introduction: a Postmodern/Poststructuralist Cinema
	1 From British Cinema to Mega - Cinema
	2 Peter Greenaway ans the Failure of Cinema
	3 Neo - Baroque Imaging in Peter Greenaway's Cinema
	4 Tabula for a Catastrophe: Peter Greenaway's The Falls and Foucault's Heterotopia
	5 Postmodernism and the French New Novel: the Influence of Last Year at Marienbad on The Draughtman's Contract
	6 Rising from the Ruins: Interpreting the Missing Formal Device within the Belly of an Architect
	7 Z Is for Zebra, Zoo, Zed, and Zygote, or Is It Possible to Live with Ambivalence?
	8 Prospero's Books, Postmodernism, and the Reenchantment of the World
	9 The Crisis of Commentary: Tilting at Windmills in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
	10 Theater, Ritual, and Materiality in Peter Greenaway's The Baby of Mâcon
	11 Skin Deep: Fins - de - Siècle and New Beginnings in Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book
	12 Body and Text & Eight and a Half Women: a Laconic Black Comedy
	13 Two Interviews with Peter Greenaway
	14 The Tulse Luper Suitcases: Peter Greenaway's Left Luggage
	15 Greenaway, the Netherlands, and the Conspiracies of History
Works by Peter Greenaway
	Solo Shows
	Exhibitions, Installations, and Performances
	Books and Catalogues
	Chapter 1
	Chapter 2
	Chapter 3
	Chapter 4
	Chapter 5
	Chapter 6
	Chapter 7
	Chapter 8
	Chapter 9
	Chapter 10
	Chapter 11
	Chapter 14
	Chapter 15
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Paula Willoquet-Maricondi
Mary Alemany-Galway



revised edition












Edited by
ISBN-13: 978-0-8108-6201-2
ISBN-10: 0-8108-6201-8


Since the 1960s, British multi-media artist Peter Greenaway has shocked and intrigued audiences with
his avant-garde approach to fi lmmaking and other artistic ventures. From early experimental fi lms to
provocative features, Greenaway has deployed strategies associated with structuralist cinema only to
challenge or critique the very limits of that cinema, and of fi lm in general.

In this collection of essays, scholars from a variety of disciplines explore various postmodern and post-
structuralist aspects of Greenaway’s fi lms, starting with his early shorts and delving into his feature-
length works, including The Draughtman’s Contract, The Belly of an Architect, A Zed and Two Noughts,
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, The Baby of Mâcon, and The Pillow Book. Other artistic
productions, including his paintings and installations, are also discussed. These essays examine the
fi lmmaker’s position within British and avant-garde cinema and his interest in constructing and decon-
structing representational systems.

Since the fi rst edition of this book, Greenaway has enjoyed continued success in creating hybridized
media projects for the stage and screen, as evidenced by additional essays in this revised volume. A
new chapter examines Greenaway’s most ambitious endeavor to date, The Tulse Luper Suitcases, which
exists as four feature fi lms, multiple websites, an online game, several books and installations, and a
number of theatrical events. Also new to this collection is an essay that addresses how Dutch political
events and Dutch art have been crucial in shaping Greenaway’s aesthetic, focusing on The Draughts-
man’s Contract, the 1991 opera Writing to Vermeer, and Nightwatching, the audiovisual installation and
fi lm, both inspired by Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

Peter Greenaway’s Postmodern/Poststructuralist Cinema, Revised Edition explores the cultural, histori-
cal, and philosophical implications of this hybrid artist whose paintings, drawings, exhibitions, instal-
lations, and operatic productions are an intrinsic part of his work in fi lm. This collection of diverse
essays, which includes two texts by Greenaway, two interviews with the director, and a revised fi lmog-
raphy, will interest students, teachers, critics, and lovers of both postmodern art and cinema.

Mary Alemany-Galway, John Di Stefano, Bridget Elliott, Peter Greenaway, Lia M. Hotchkiss, Michael
Ostwald, David Pascoe, Heidi Peeters, Jean Petrolle, Anthony Purdy, Cristina Degli-Esposti Reinert,
Dayana Stetco, Bart Testa, Paula Willoquet-Maricondi

Paula Willoquet-Maricondi is associate professor of fi lm studies and chair of the media arts department
at Marist College.

Mary Alemany-Galway is retired from her position as lecturer in media studies at Massey University.

For orders and information please contact the publisher
Scarecrow Press, Inc.
A wholly owned subsidiary of
The Rowman & Littlefi eld Publishing Group, Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200
Lanham, Maryland 20706
1-800-462-6420 • fax 717-794-3803

Cover image from The Pillow Book, courtesy of Marc Guillamot
Cover design by Neil D. Cotterill

PeterGreenMECH.indd 1PeterGreenMECH.indd 1 6/10/08 10:58:11 AM6/10/08 10:58:11 AM

Page 2



Revised Edition

Edited by

Paula Willoquet-Maricondi

Mary Alemany-Galway

The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Lanham, Maryland • Toronto • Plymouth, UK


Page 220

Bronzino, Botticelli, and Rembrandt. The architecture of the palace is itself
copied from representations: Prospero’s cell is modeled on da Messina’s St.
Jerome, and the library is a copy of Michelangelean architecture.6

Through this use of visual quotations, Greenaway is clearly emphasiz-
ing that Prospero’s reality is modeled on representations. Prospero’s world
foreshadows the postmodern world of the hyperreal, where representations
of reality have become the models for reality, a human-made reality.

Greenaway also shows that the cinematic image is modeled on the per-
spective construction of the Renaissance (see Baudry). The camera is made
to adopt a position analogous to that afforded by perspectivist paintings. The
camera’s position duplicates the frontal gaze of the spectatorial subject, giv-
ing the illusion of total visibility and absolute knowledge by reducing what
it sees to a containable, homogeneous, and stable object of sight. By creating
a clear distinction between the subject of sight and its object, the camera an-
gle and the living paintings dramatize the fact that “separation is the price of
vision” (de Certeau, “Madness,” 26). The reflections in the mirrors further
call attention to the visible world created by Prospero as projection and spec-
tacle. The mirror is the “instrument of a universal magic that changes things
into spectacle” (Merleau-Ponty, 168). Like perspectivism, it is a “mechanical
trick” that constructs a resemblance of the world belonging to thought. This
resemblance is, according to Merleau-Ponty, a “relationship of projection,”
and “there is no projection of the existing world which respects it in all as-
pects” (170, 174).

Robert Romanyshyn argues that linear perspective vision was an artis-
tic invention that rapidly became a cultural habit of mind; what started as a
technique soon became a comprehensive world-view, a metaphysics. Per-
spectivism invited a spectatorial position in relation to the world by creating
visionary subjects of a world reduced to a mere object of vision. In codify-
ing the laws of linear perspective, Leon Battista Alberti, the fifteenth-century
artist, architect, and author, inaugurated “a psychology of distance between
the eye of the mind and the flesh of the world, upon which the cogito proj-
ect of Descartes rests and of which it is an elaboration” (349). When the
world is textualized—encoded and enframed in books and images—it loses
its material and organic nature and becomes a schematized abstraction.

It is interesting to note that the introduction and mass-production of
the printed book coincides with Alberti’s codification of the laws of
perspective, his transformation of the world into a “geometric grid.” As
Romanyshyn explains, “the linearity of the geometric world will find its
counterpart in the linear literacy of the book, where line by line, sentence
by sentence, the chronological structure of the book will mirror the

Prospero’s Books 189

Page 221

sequential, ordered, linear structure of time in the sciences” (351). The
triple textualization of the world by print, perspectivism, and science in
the Renaissance is reflected in Prospero’s use of language, images, and
magical powers to construct a new world according to a new model in
thought. What the viewer sees is the product of a mental vision created by
the mind’s eye.

The primacy given to sight by modernity and the appropriation of
sight as a paradigm for thought help us sustain the illusion that we are spec-
tators outside the world and are able to study the world to determine and
control its functioning. The sense of depth brought about by perspectivism
is an optical illusion. Not only is it false, but it is deliberately deceptive: it
paradoxically robs the world of its own inherent depth, turning it into an ob-
servable and measurable flat surface. Merleau-Ponty identifies depth as the
most primordial perception and argues that depth is a dimension of ambi-
guity and confusion through which we can experience our own presence
within the world. Depth contains what is visible and what is invisible and re-
minds us that the world preexists and exceeds our vision. Depth is experi-
enced through bodily perception, which must be distinguished from ocular
vision. When we look at a representation, we see; we do not perceive. While
vision appropriates, perception is inherently participatory. For Merleau-
Ponty, perception is bodily and dialogical; it is a conversation between the
living body and the living world, for it is the body, not the mind, that is the
conscious subject of experience.

David Abram, in his study of the relevance of Merleau-Ponty’s philos-
ophy to an understanding of our current ecological crisis, explains that “it is
depth that provides the slack or play in the immediately perceived world, the
instability that already calls upon the freedom of the body to engage, to
choose, to focus the world long before any verbal reflection comes to thema-
tize and appropriate that freedom as its own” (103). Abram argues that our
metaphysical detachment from the sensible world is a result of our distrust of
the senses and of the body.7

The world-view or ideology encouraged by perspectivism promotes
contact at a distance while sustaining the illusion that images of the world
accurately represent the world and our sensory involvement with it. This
world-view literally puts us out of touch with the world.

Greenaway’s film strives to undermine the monocular vision replicated
by the camera by introducing multiple framings. The image on the screen
ceases to be two dimensional, enfolding into multiple layers. While this
“trick” of placing a frame within a frame, known as vedute in painting, was al-
ready practiced by Renaissance artists (Bénoliel, 68), its use in the film may

190 Chapter 8

Page 440

Search for Postmodern Faith (2007). Her essays have appeared in Modern Greek
Studies, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Image:A Journal of Art and Religion,
and various anthologies.

Anthony Purdy is professor of French studies at the University of Western
Ontario, and graduate chair in comparative literature and faculty scholar, arts
and humanities. He has written extensively on the literature of France and
Québec, and on the relationship between literature and other discursive for-
mations. His publications with Bridget Elliott include Peter Greenaway: Ar-
chitecture and Allegory (1997), “A Walk Through Heterotopia: Peter Green-
away’s Landscapes by Numbers,” in Landscape and Film, and “Man in a
Suitcase: Tulse Luper at Compton Verney,” Image [&] Narrative (http://www

Cristina Degli-Esposti Reinert is visiting faculty in the School of Media
Arts at the University of Arizona where she teaches film studies. She is co-
editor of Perspectives on Federico Fellini and editor of Postmodernism in the Cin-
ema. Her writings on Italo Cavino, Umberto Eco, Michelangelo Antonioni,
Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese, Peter Greenaway, and Sally Potter have ap-
peared in Forum Italicum, Voices in Italian Americana, Italica, Cinefocus, Screen,
and Cinema Journal. She is a contributor to The International Film Industry and
has authored entries on directors, film composers, and film journals for the
Routledge Encyclopedia of Italian Studies. Her research interests focus on the
neo-baroque aesthetics of postmodern and heritage cinema.

Dayana Stetco is the director of the creative writing program at the Uni-
versity of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is the founder and artistic director of the
Milena Theatre Group. Her plays have received awards and have been pro-
duced in Romania, England, and the United States. Her fiction and essays
have appeared in Poesis, Antract, Echinox, Metrotimes, Dispatch-Detroit, Emergency
Almanac, mark(s), gender(f),The Means,The Southwestern Review, and Interdiscipli-
nary Humanities. Her translation of Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu’s novel, The
Dragon, was published in Lines of Fire:Women Writers of World War I (2000).

Bart Testa teaches cinema studies at the University of Toronto. He is grad-
uate coordinator of the University’s Cinema Studies Institute. His publica-
tions include Spirit in the Landscape and Back and Forth: Early Cinema and the
Avant-Garde. He has contributed essays to many anthologies, including Pres-
ence and Absence:The Films of Michael Snow and Deny Arcand:Auteur/Provoca-
teur, and co-edited Pier Paolo Pasolini in Contemporary Perspective.

About the Contributors 409

Page 441

Paula Willoquet-Maricondi is associate professor of film studies and chair
of the media arts department at Marist College. Her writings on film and
literature have appeared in several anthologies, and in the journals Cinema
Journal, Literature/Film Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, Green Letters, Literature/
Interpretation/Theory, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature, and Interdisciplinary
Studies in Literature and Environment. She is the editor of Pedro Almodóvar: In-
terviews (2005), and is currently editing Framing the World: Explorations in Ec-
ocriticism and Film, a volume of essays on ecocinema and ecocritical readings
of films.

410 About the Contributors

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