The Films of Peter Greenaway: Sex, Death and Provocation

Overview

British filmmaker Peter Greenaway says life offers only two subjects: "One is sex and the other is death." Greenaway uses both and romanticizes neither; indeed, his goal is the antithesis of the sanitary and sentimental portrayal of humanity. Although his films have met with outrage from some viewers, cult audiences praise them for insightful messages: that people are detached from violence because they fail to see others' bodies as identical to their own; that predatory capitalism has caused humans to lose sight...
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Overview

British filmmaker Peter Greenaway says life offers only two subjects: "One is sex and the other is death." Greenaway uses both and romanticizes neither; indeed, his goal is the antithesis of the sanitary and sentimental portrayal of humanity. Although his films have met with outrage from some viewers, cult audiences praise them for insightful messages: that people are detached from violence because they fail to see others' bodies as identical to their own; that predatory capitalism has caused humans to lose sight of our shared physicality and mortality; and that taboos are simply a system allowing people to exercise power over others.

This book examines nine of Greenaway's feature films, dedicating a chapter to each: The Draughtsman's Contract; A Zed and Two Noughts; The Belly of an Architect; Drowning by Numbers; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; Prospero's Books; The Baby of Mâcon; The Pillow Book; and 8 ½ Women. The author examines the characters and plot, studies the structure and elements of the story, explores Greenaway's motives and reactions, and reveals audience reactions, including comments from viewers. A filmography lists films written and directed by Peter Greenaway from 1962 to 2004.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786425174
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/2006
  • Pages: 239
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Keesey is a professor of film and literature at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. He lives in Cayucos.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : carnal knowledge and systemic ignorance 3
1 An eye for an eye in The draughtsman's contract 9
2 Zoos and ooze in A zed & two noughts 24
3 Death by design in The belly of an architect 42
4 Body count in Drowning by numbers 62
5 Consumed with revenge : The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover 81
6 Recovering the native body in Prospero's books 99
7 Birth and other obscenities in The baby of Macon 125
8 Sex and text in The pillow book 148
9 Male sexual fantasies of 8 1/2 women 182
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