Monday, July 28, 2014
Goltzius & the Erotic Movie Cinetrek
Last Sunday evening, I descended the steps of our Manson Place flat to join a cinetrek very different from our previous outings. We cruised over to south bank and found our place in the small intimate theater inside BFI. Unfortunately, I hadn't had a chance to research the interesting film style of writer/director, Peter Greenaway. By not doing so, it made it nearly impossible to know what to expect when walking into the theater.
Goltzius & the Pelican Company is a bold, erotic, detailed depiction of the 6 sexual taboos found in the Old Testament. It's a story about a dutch printer named Hendrick Goltzius who pitched an idea to the Margrave of Alsace to fund the printing of the stories by the purchase of a new printing press. In order to tempt the Margrave into complying with Goltizuis' wishes, he offers to preform each taboo dramatization in front of him and his court. Those taboos included voyeurism, incest, adultery, pedophilia, prostitution, and necrophilia. Each sexual taboo was presented to the court in an extremely risque act featuring nudity, desire, and passion.
Despite the unexpected storyline and intense amount of erotic scenes in the film, Greenaway somehow knew the exact balance between grotesque and a true work of art. Over the course of the movie, many people were murdered and harmed. Greenaway made it known that the characters were being tortured, yet he made sure to leave out the scene of decapitation. He also didn't show when a character's fingers were being cut off, or when someone was being drowned. He simply hinted at the violence by showing the aftermath, or adding the sound of the victim screaming without the video to prove it.
As Americans, we are primed for the blood, guts, and violence that the entertainment industry throws at us on a daily basis. The only thing that is censored in the United States is the human body. By showing us a raw interpretation of what we aren't used to seeing on the big screen (nudity and sex), and covering up the violence that we are, Greenaway creates a balance completely flipped from our normal interpretation.
It's known that many individuals have gotten up and left a Greenaway film in the middle of it. They either don't agree with what's being displayed, they can't handle the intensity, or they just don't know how to process what is unfolding in front of their eyes. This might have to do with what side of the spectrum Greenaway has chosen to write from.
Not only was this presentation of nudity and sex in front of us a dramatic change of pace, but it is viewed as an art form. Creating a balance between trash and art is a heavily opinionated situation. First off, everything can be interpreted as art if they try hard enough. But the key is to have that art appreciated by those who take the time to understand it. Greenaway couldn't have made this film a success without an artistic point of view being taken on it. By making 'Goltzius & The Pelican Company' understood and appreciated by those who view it and showing those individuals an inverted perspective of nudity and violence, it became a true work of art.
Ariana Frayer, July 28th, 2014.