Peter Greenaway Takes On Morality, Genitalia, and The Thirty Years War
(indieWIRE/5.26.2000) –If you have trouble following a Kevin Smith caper, by all means drive full speed away from a Peter Greenaway offering. This most intelligent of directors readily creates features that entwine the more complex elements of mathematics, science, architecture, psychology, philsophy, film history, art and especially the metaphysical. Luckily, he also relishes with great glee sex and romance. Otherwise, his audiences would be totally comprised of Film Forum subscribers, film festival cognoscenti, and aging deconstructionists.
His latest effort, “8 1/2 Women” (Lions Gate Films) besides being a
deliciously immoral tribute to the Fellini classic “8-1/2,” is an often
hilarious study of men’s sexual fantasies about women. The father/son
protagonists here soon learn that wealth, whiteness, and the penis only
wield so much power, and the power game can be surprisingly turned against them with unexpected results.
indieWIRE caught up with the director of “Darwin” (1993), “M is for Man Music,” “Mozart” (1991), “Drowning by Numbers” (1988), and “The Belly of an Architect” (1987) at the Paramount Hotel coffee shop in New York City.
indieWIRE: Your films deal a lot with “what is life?” especially in “A Zed and Two Naughts” (1985) with its whole obsession with decay. Nowadays, in such a film as “American Psycho” and the novels of Dennis Cooper, people are being sliced open in search of their souls. The heroes here are looking a for a cure to their own and society’s soullessness. The answer, they feel, maybe just below the flesh. Have you wondered where the soul is?
Peter Greenaway: Well, you’re obviously primed to ask exactly the right questions. I made a trilogy of films of which the third part is incomplete, and it was about the self-same subject. The trilogy of films was “Prospero’s Books” (1991) about the uses and abuses of wisdom, the “Baby of Macon” (1993) which is about uses and abuses of religion, then there was a film which is basically about necrophilia and was about searching the soul.
It is interesting in European history how the soul has traveled from the belly where it used to be with the Romans up to the heart where it was with the Christians to up here in the sort of I suppose the 19th century post-ancien r