A Brief Chat with Peter Greenaway

by Lydia Marcus

Sitting in his publicist's conference room, writer/director Peter
Greenaway shared that he feels films haven't changed at all since the
days when D.W. Griffith was directing. "In a provocative move, I would
say we haven't seen any cinema yet - all we've seen is a hundred years
of illustrated text - so whether your name is Spielberg or Scorsese or
Tarantino or Wenders or Godard, you've got to have text before you've
got image, it's the way we've constructed cinema... Most of the world
just is not educated in terms of visual appreciation." In his newest
film, "The Pillow Book", Greenaway utilizes picture in picture over
picture, all using differing film ratios and a constant shifting and
overlapping of B/W, color and monochromatic images within individual

Exactly how audiences respond to these multi-layered techniques,
Greenaway offers, "In the same way that we have been trained to use
words, you have to be trained to use pictures." Greenaway continued,
"Why do we have so little cultural confidence in our cinema that we
don't intrinsically make the notion of cinema as being image based and
allow it to make, in some sense, "cinema" cinema. Why do we have
writer's cinema all the time?"