Rembrandt’s J’accuse

Controversial British filmmaker Peter Greenaway never fails to astound, confound, titillate and provoke. Recently, he has turned his attention to reinterpreting great works of art. Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times: “If you’re in town for the Venice Biennale, don’t miss (Greenaway’s) marriage of High Renaissance painting and advanced technology that is ‘The Wedding at Cana’…possibly the best unmanned art history lecture you’ll ever experience.” Equally inventive is his “Rembrandt’s J’accuse,” a first-person analysis of “The Night Watch,” the 1642 masterpiece on view in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Greenaway claims that the artist laid out dozens of clues regarding a murder—and for this indiscretion was forced into bankruptcy. Secret alliances, homosexual relationships, phallic symbolism, a transvestite dwarf, illegitimate children, and a Hitchcockian cameo by Rembrandt himself, all come into play. Greenaway complements his revisionist art history with witty dramatic recreations of these conspiracy theories that reference Rembrandt’s own aesthetic in their elegant framing and lighting. [Synopsis courtesy of Film Forum]