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Peter Greenaway - Nederlands Film Festival

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VARIETY CINEMA MILITANS LECTURENetherlands Film Festival, Utrecht, September 1988CINEMA IS FAR TOO RICH AND CAPABLE A MEDIUM TO BE LEFTMERELY TO THE STORYTELLERSBy Peter GreenawayA.A young German painting-apprentice from Freiburg is swimming in a canal among thefields outside Delft on the morning of October 12th 1654. He is German, he believes incold baths to help the circulation and he is obeying instructions from his father to keephimself clean. He can see the spires and buildings of Delft against the sky and at 10.15exactly, he is surprised and horrified to see the city burst into flame. Four seconds later,he is deafened by three loud reports and four seconds after that, a shock-wave brushesover him - he can feel its warmth on his bare skin. He has become a witness of the GreatDelft Gunpowder Explosion.Without apparent cause or motive, a powder-magasine has blown up and destroyed athird of the town. The buildings and churches continue to burn for two days. There aremany casualties. Three of them are painters. Their names are Van Eester, Frans Peck andCarel Fabritius. At the time of the explosion, all three of them were working in theirstudios. Van Eester was working on a view of the Singel Canal, Frans Peck was painting aportrait of Marietta, his wife, reading a letter and Fabritius was painting a genre- piececalled The Skittle-Game. Van Eester had both his arms blown off, Frans Peck wasblinded, and Fabritius, after eight hours, dies of respiratory collapse - his lungs burntout. All three painters will not paint again.The young German paintin-apprentice from Freiburg - pulling on his clothes - rushes offacross the fields to Delft to assist in the terrible aftermath of the explosion - carryingbuckets of water, manning the water-pumps, lifting out the wounded, closing the eyes ofthe dead, administering tourniquets, comforting the dying.In a temporary hospital of tents rigged up away from the burning buildings, he makesthe acquaintance of the three painters - fetching them water, changing their bandages,hearing - in all three cases - their curiously over- detailed accounts of the tragedy. Hefinds out about their last paintings - and, idly at first - then with gathering interest - hepokes about the town's wreckage and eventually finds enough blackened and ragged bits


of painted canvas to make him think he can reconstruct the their last paintings. He ispuzzled and a little anxious at what he finds. He asks questions wich help him make aninterpretation of what the paintings convey.He discovers that Van Eester's painting of the canalside includes the figure of a womanmaking a lewd grimace as she bangs the dust out of a rug - she is non other thanMarietta, Frans Peck's wife and almost certainly Van Eester's mistress. Fabritius'painting - amongst other things - depicts a man urinating against a wheelbarrow - "thewheelbarrow" is Van Eester's nickname on account of the way he walks - pushing hisbelly before him. Whereas the letter being read by Marietta in Peck's painting contains alibellous account of Fabritius's plagiarism.The young German student realises that each painting demonstrates both fiercecompetitive relationship and a vitriolic personal animosity between the painters. He isvery imaginative and especially interested in seeking symbolic meaning - that - after - iswhy he persuaded his father to let him come to Holland to study in the first place -knowing full well how the Dutch secrete so much metaphorical meaning into theirpainting.Further examining the reconstructed paintings - along - with others he has discovered -he finds significance in images of burning candles, conspiratorial meetings, secret letters,barrels of black-powder and he is lead seriously to suspect that the painters themselves -each independently and in his own way - were responsible for the terrible explosion andthat explorion the whole tragic event sadly and terribly backfriend.However - the remaining painters of Delft - not to miss an opportunity - soon pullthemselves together and begin to make good money painting scenes of the explosion,The German student is appalled - especially since he is constantly being asked todescribe his eye-witness account. He remonstrates and harangues the painters on theirlack of compassion and their reprehensible opportunism - he begins to make accusationsthat the explosion was a conspiracy organised by the painters of Delft to stimulatebusiness.One morning, the German student's dead body is found floating in a canal in the outsideDelft.ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZWith an acknowledgement to the dependable, fixed and rigorous characteristics of thealphabet, this address is pedantically organised according to its 26 letters - where thevowels are the substance and the consonants are the supporting comment.Or maby it's the other way around.B.I am a film-maker... not a film-critic or a film-theorist... and I much prefer to be makingfilms than talking about them and since the most satisfying and stimulating part of the


film-making process for me, is in the conception of a new project, to amuse me, andhopefully to amuse you, as well as talking about films I am going to speculate about theconception of some new ones - five new ones - one for each of the vowels of the alphabet.Taking full note of this particular location and occasion - I can still say without anyspecial pleading - that there is considerable evidence in my film-projects - bothcompleted and uncompleted - of a fascination with Holland, Dutch culture and Dutchpainting.Especially Dutch painting. Taking liberties with time-sychronisation and with autorship -it is Dutch painting of the Golden Age - the 16th - 17th and 18th centuries - that is thesubjects, content and starting point of these five new films.U1C.I am a practising film-maker of a minority persuasion who has had the good fortune -due to a certain set of circumstances - not least the support of the Dutch Producer - KeesKasnader - who is sitting among you - to make very personal films that have not beenobliged to reap large financial rewards or court enormous popular support. In the eyes ofsome - this may disqualify me from making any statement about the health of the cinema- or what cinema should be - or could be - or where cinema should go.On the other hand those who believe that cinema is a game of cost effectiveness in amedium of popular entertainment.... and seek great financial rewards by straining andmanipulating to be popular invariably for me produce works that are dull or worthy orworse - usually much worse.However you can hear all the time how I qualify even the strongest statements for I amonly too aware the subjects is fraught with contradictions, ironies and paradoxes - andafter all my personal cinema- practice uses contracdiction, paradox and irony as its firstmajor substance.D.Remembering the exhortations of Menno ter Braak, the insparation of these lectures, Iwould like to speculate in public about some of the charateristics of a cinema that Ipersonally wish to see and wish to make - and maybe such subjective aspirations mayilluminate more general areas.First of all ....j I want to see films made with the freedom that a writer or a painter has with hismaterial - wich questions whether it is necessary for the cinema - all cinema - to pretendto be the popular medium of entertainment many people still think it is.k I want to see films that are prepared to operate as much through an approach to theintellect as to an insistent on making an emotional empathy with its audiance.


l I want cinema to regard the audiance as an intelligent ally and not patronise it.m I want to see a cinema that is a cinema from the ground up - not a cinema that hasfirst to find life in a book or a play before it can be a film.n I want to see films take and acknowledge their rightful and relavant place in thecontinuity of Western visual culture - and not remain separate from it.p I want cinema to be recognised as the artform it is. It continues to surprise me thatmany - who should know better - do not do so.q I would like to see films that are designed to have a longer screen life than six monthsand can be infinitely and repeatably viewable. I would like to see each film seriouslyinvest in its own artistic future.r I want to see a cinema that is prepared to be experimental and speculative andinnovative.s I want to make and see films that acknowledge themselves as films and do not attemptto pretend to be slices of reality or windows on the world - wich are dubious andunobtainable at the best of times.t I want to see films made deliberately for the big screen wich employs a differentlanguage that that employed to succeed best on television.v I want to see and make films where the form or structure of a movie is given as muchthought as its other content.w It is has been that cinema is the bastard offspring of the novel and the theatre - withpainting as the godfather - have they got the patrimony the right way around?I want to enjoy a cinema that is not prepared solely to rest on its proven laurels as astory-telling vehicle - for cinema is far too rich and capable a medium to be left merely tothe storytellers.In making these declarations I know that I am putting myself on the firing-line - forbeing a practising film-maker - the asparations can be directly compared with the films -unlike the film-critic or the film- theorist who seldom offers a product to demonstrate hisor her opinions and therefore often has power without responsibility - an enviousposition - and in England often abused.....I can take some license and permission from Ter Braak - who gently approved of filmmakerswho could develope the awareness to know that their creations still often by nomeans came abreast of their aspirations - he knew that "consciousness of the formprecedes the realisations".Wich brings us to the letter E - a vowel.E


E.The painter Cornelius Gooch painted cows. He was a cow-painter. His father had been aherdsman, his sisters were milkmaids and his wife had been a dairymaid. Only hisbrother had broken the mould - he built boats - rowing-boats for the canal ferrymen.Gooch enjoyed cows - he enjoyed their docility, their smooth, short-haired backs, theirsoft muzzels, the hang of their swinging udders, the sharp horns, the moulding of thecow's flank with the indentations of the rib- cage. He enjoyed the problems of paintingthem against the wide sky and the distant spire of Dordrecht cathedral. There is - it mustbe admitted - a certain similarity in all his cows as though he was painting from a model.Gooch was a methodical painter - perhaps a rather pedestrian painter - and although thecows would stand or sit comparatively still for long hours chewing the cud - Gooch hadproblems because he was so slow. Although he picked the most docile cows he could find- they still moved too much for him.To help him solve his problem - he asked his brother - who was a carpenter and builtrowing boats - to construct him a cow. He built it like the frame of an upturned boat andcovered it with leather and cow-hide. From close up the model cow looked quiteconvincing - if a little stiff. It was hollow and light and Gooch loaded it into a cart andtook it out to the fields each day - setting it down among the grass. The other cows grewquite used to it - though the bulls remained restless. Sometimes Gooch was a littledisappointed - on bright days when the sun shone straight down at noon withoutshadows - the cow model looked a little lifeless. It was his wife's idea to climb inside andanimate it a little. She was a large, docile woman with sweptback ginger hair, a largebosom and a pale cream skin. The wooden frame of the model cow was quite malleable -though very warm on summer days and a tight fit - for Gooch's wife was a large woman -she sometimes had to take a few clothes off to make herself more comfortable.Gooch prospered.His dealer learnt with surprise and not a little amusement of Gooch's strategy and passeddetails of it on to his clients who were intriged - so much so - that the prices of Gooch'spaintings that featured the wooden cow - possibly with its occupant - fetched higherprices than the rest of his output. To make sure that his clients stayed intrigued, Gooch'sagent actuelly dropped hints that Gooch should make his cows even more wooden.Gooch complied.Sometimes afterwards his wife gave birth to a son - though none saw it. The son wascalled Michael and he spent his whole life in an attic-room above Gooch's house near thecathedral - a room wich shook when the bells of the cathedral rang on the hour, on thequarter hour, on the half hour - and whenever the bell-ringer could find an excuse. It wassuggested that little Michael - not surprisingly - was deaf - that he could not feed himselfon account of his unusable hands - that the plasterwork of his room was pitted withscratch-marks - that he had horns.It was said that he was kept int the attic-room close to the bells to hide his deepmournful cries and that Madame Gooch took up painting sheep to pay the bell-ringer....these and many more speculations were voiced in Dordrecht for it is a town of muchimaginations.


U1XF.I am suspicious of those crusaders in anything and appologist, who, in the guise ofclaming to be disinterested in anything but the good of the cinema - insist on solutionsand strageties as though the cinema was one single phenomenon - whereas what they aredoing is attempting to justify their own film-making practice ......... for there are a considerable number of film-making practices - all of them valid intheir own lights - a spectrum that streches from - on left - home-movies - to experimentalesoteric projects, to a cinema of personal statement - often referred to with inexactnessas "the art-film" - to middle- budget popular entertainment to extravagant multi-millionprojects over here on the right ... left and right have here - for the most part - noparticular political significance .... I have chosen to work somewhere to the left of thecentre of that spectrum - in a cinema - that is defined as existing between experimentaland art cinema.I would suggest that all these different types of cinema have actually needed one another- and still do need one another - for their overall common good. Great commercialtalents have invariably started modestly, young audiences are often attracted into thecinema for the first time by undemanding material - to become more discriminating at alater stage - the example of popular cinema encourages personal amateur experiment -the public cinema by its presence and creations of cinema-going audiances subsidises theless obviously financially profitable projects by providing the whole complicatedbusiness of distribution machinery - and so the cycles go round and around creating atotal film culture.However - I cannot resist one observation - I can believe that the seed-corn of the totalfilm culture has always been that part of the spectrum that has variously be called theart-film or the independent film or the film of the auteur or the personal-signature film -all the titles are unsatisfactory - but I think we all know what is intended by them.The popular commercial cinema has been, and is constantly being revitalised, by theirexample. Hollywood gains from capitalising on their talents, directors, risks andimagination. The long succession of talent to the commercial cinema - for those whowant to exclusively support it - provides irrefutable and innumerable examples.Therefore - I believe - that they are beholden to acknwoledge and support the personalsignaturecinema - the art-cinema - for their own continued fruitful existence - that theseed-corn should be nurtured and encouraged - with all the risks and failures it entails.However I also believe it should be encouraged and supported for its own sake - for - andhere comes the flagrant bias - it is the only really progressive cinema we have.That's the end of the general harangue - all else I have to say is much more personal andhighly subjective.G.Irritated by ill-informed critics whose model of cinema is so fixed, passive andconservative - for a long time I believed that they should be obliged to declare their


credentials, their pedigree and their idea of cinema as a preface to every public statementthey made - thus putting into some perspective what came after.Such advice should be made applicable to me now.Accordingly, before discussing each of those twelve aspirations for a personal cinema - Ishould make twelve bold declarations - six of these declarations are historical, four socialand two temperamental - an obsession with numerology should not disturb anyone -numerology, classification and taxonomies are my cinema-practice's secound majorsubstance.....So ... I am English ... I am a product of the 1960's, I had a literary education, I wastrained as a painter, I entered the film industry by way of the documentary cuttingrooms,I believe the Western World's greatest thousand movies have all be made cheaply... and made by individuals and not committees. I believe that all films have equalrepresentation in the great cinema in the sky. I believe cinema is an artform and do notthink that cinema is still the great popular medium of the twentieth century. Myfavourite contemporary author is Borges and my favourite contemporary painter is RBKitaj.H.I am English and therefore allied - and associated - and an heir to a long tradition ofinterest in Natural History ... some ecological responsibility and ... certainly a romanticnotion of landscape. A celebrated English constribution to European landscape is "theEnglish garden" - whereas the French contrived a garden with mathematical precision -frank and candid in its artificiality - the English garden - rolling parkland, theatricallyplaced groups of trees - rivers damed to make ornamental lakes... was an artificial affairbut constructed to look natural - designed with studied negligence to look real - ratherlike the tradition of English film-making - the manufacture of artifice arranged in thepursuit of naturalism.Although it is said that the English landscape has been more painted, drawn - and nowfilmed - than any other landscape in Europe - it is true that English culture has alwaysbeen - and still is - more literary than painterly - on account of wich - maybe - Trauffautwas right - if a little ungenerous - in saying that "English cinema is a contradictory term".I am English - and the English - genarally - do not feel comfortable with an "intellectual"approach to the world ... maybe the anti-intellectual" stance would be more easilycomprehensible if the English were not also allied to a tradition of phlegmaticunderstatement and irony - wich are decidedly cool attitudes ... and to a reticence todemonstrate feeling - but both the anti-intellectualism and the reticence probably cometogether to explain why the English are supposedly good at games wich convenientlymask and conceal demonstrative emotion under rules and regulations ....... yet - it is amark of their irony that, having invented the gamesmanship, they then say that what'simportant is not winning - but taking part .... but that could again be an attidute thatprevents disappointment on losing .... another concealment...I am a product af the 1960's .... history makes the decades too tidy - for me the sixtieswas only five years long - 1963 to 1968. I had discovered European cinema withBergman's Seventh Seal some six years before and I virtually stopped going to thecinema six years after - about the time when Godard went into self-imposed ideological


exile - but the five years of 1963 to 1968 contain I suppose all the strongest influences onmy film-making practice - an introduction to the music of Reich and Glass - and thecomposer Michael Nyman - a personal re-discovery of English landscape ... especially inWiltshire where all my earliest films were made ... the creation of Tulse Luper, theinfluence of Conceptual Art, Land-Art, the discovery of heroes like RB Kitaj, Borges ...the purchase of a first camera and seeing Hollis Frampton's film Zorns Lemma and AlainResnais' film Last Year in Marienbad.I had an orthodox literary education and a much longer unorthodox one - with all thepitfalls. I wanted to write - my early models were not English but French - especially andinitially Robbe-Grillet - wich gave way to an enthusiasm for list-making and otherdevices that tend to subvert narrative...I was trained as a painter, and still - as you may have noticed - have a healthy respect forthat occupation ... as a student - I was accused of being too literary. Not being excited atobjective observational exercises like life-drawing - being impatient at having to makethings look real and life-like - I chose to paint murals - an indication perhaps of wishingto create images on a huge scale - as on a huge screen - and I spent nearly a year up aladder on scaffold - not a situation of much social promise. I am grateful that every singelmural I painted has now been painted out.I started earning a living in the film industry by accident. The Central Office ofInformation is a peace-time continuation of the Crown Film Unit that virtually inventedthe word "documentary" and spawned film-makers like Jennings, Gierson andCavalcanti. I entered the film-industry through its cutting rooms - starting at the bootom- emptying the film-bins - and eventually became a film-editor - cutting many thousandof feet of film a week - making documentaries about every subject imagineable - theapproach was little short of manufacturing propaganda for the Britisch way of life but thesubject matter was often bizarre - and so cancelled out the jingoism, rendering itvirtually harmless and certainly often making it surreal. A fascination for exotic statitics,non sequitor events and eloborate red herrings started here - however - I have neverthought that any red herring is completely red ....I believe that the West's greatest thousand movies of all time have been made cheaply.Though there never could be any substantiation that all cheap movies are good - therenever has been a guarantee that large expenditure can make quality - in fact there istendency to believe that it erodes it. I believe that the most interesting and valuable andinfluential films are made by individuals - large sums of money suggest too muchrelinquishing of control - and therefore committee-made films.I believe that all films have equal representation in the great cinema in the sky. It is notthe money or the logistics or the circumstances that make the movie - but theimagination, inspiration, vision and conviction of the maker ..... so it is reasonble tomake direct comparison between the movies of - say - Snow, Resnais and Spielberg.Having to pay super-prize money to big stars, having to use 16mm short-ends, having tomake a movie in five weeks instead of five months - are all no special ban to beingentered into a single competition as far as quality is concerned.I.


In 1663, the young surgeon Mies van Copt falls in love with a pair of knees. They belongto a woman in a painting - "A Woman Bathing in a Stream" that he sees in a lawyer'shouse where it has been left as a credit-token. The young surgeon makes an investigationand finds that the woman in question is the housekeeper of the painter of the picture. Hefinds out her address and is about to introduce himself with a reasonable invented pretexwhen he finds the painter's front-door is covered in black crepe. The woman is dead. Shedied suddenly. Her name was Hendrickje Stoffels and she was the mistress of a paintercalled Rembrandt van Rijn. The surgeon is distraught, he constrives to get her body to amorgue on the assumption that he will conduct an autopsy.Mies van Copt is lavishing attention on the knees and other parts of the anatomy ofHendrickje Stoffels when he is interrupted by Rembrandt who has come to insist onbeing present at the autopsy. Trembling - the young man brings himself to bring theknife to the body, despising both himself and Rembrandt for doing so. He is full ofretrospective jealousy and he hatches a plot to accuse Rembrandt of poisoning hismistress. He makes out a good case that she was poisoned by being persuaded to swallowconstituents of Rembrandt's colours - especially flake white and burnt umber. Van Coptexperiments with the pigments - giving them to cats, dogs and rats - there are accidents -his sister's child falls ill.The surgeon - helped by his lawyer-friend - presents his case - it is accepted by the Stateprosecution.On the following day, whilst the surgeon writes up his notes in a room close to themorgue - Rembrandt sketches him through an open window. Apparently bearing him noillwill, Rembrandt engages the surgeon in conversation - perplexing and embarassinghim with his friendliness.The case goes ahead. In the courthouse, Rembrandt is sombre and phlegmatic; hespends his time drawing the jury. The jurors are delighted. There is not enough evidenceto convict. Cleared of suspicion, Rembrandt returns home to nurse his private grief.The miserable surgeon is filled with remorse. He decides to commit suicide. He drinks aconcoction of the poisonous pigments and goes to the morgue where he lays himselfdown tidily among the corpses for the following day's anatomy-lessons - a sheet over hishead - his toes ticketed. The next day Rembrandt is present at the cutting up of his bodyat a noisy anatomy- class.K.I want to see and make films that are prepared to operate as much through an approachto the intellect as to an insistence on making emotional empathy with its audience.The majority tradition of American - and English - and European cinema has - by andlarge - been based on the ability and desire to tell a straight story well. The core of thisstory-telling is the late ninetheen and twentieth century novel with characters operatingon recognisable psycological patterns with an overall concern for morality - a morilatythat varies little from a resolution towards goodness. The genres of this cinema arelargely well-defined and the moving force is practically always achieved throughemotional empathy.


Whilst this has been going on for some eighty years, the other arts of the West - havebeen progressing with other things - exploring, expanding, being innovative, regardingthe moral obligations of art from a hundred different angles, breaking away from the oldgenres, inventing new ones - engaging in questions of style, revitalising the variouslanguages - literary and non-literary.Dominant cinema persist in the idea, largely enshrined by the significance of the systemof actors and acting - that emotional identification is a necessary formula. People want -in the conventional wisdom - to be "moved" when they go to the cinema - what do theyget? - well - for the most part - they get the familiar manipulative emotional cinema -they get sentiment masquerading as emotion - they get well-honed situations thatmassage prejudices, that comfort by repeating what is familair - providing the samereassuring emotional experiences by the same recognisable methods...Are there alternatives? Of course there are. What about a cinema that does not start with"characters", that does not start with plot- that does not brand itself in advance as a"weepie" or a comedy or a horror-picture or a thriller? Instead of an exclusive massappealto emotional catharsis - what about a cinema that makes an appeal to somerationality, some delight in ideas, some alternatives to feeling everything - to thinkingsomething? Cinema is not just a vehicle for the performance of actors - it is so muchmore than that - it operates as a total work where the performance of actors and thepossibility of emotional empathy are only a part of the pattern of things.If they believe that cinema is only a vehicle for actors pretending to be real people in socalledreal-life situations - then I believe that film-makers and film-audiences settle fortoo little - they are too easily satisfied. Perhaps their expectations would be betterrealised in the theatre. Cinema is not the theatre - the theatre may exclusively be theactor's medium - the cinema is not - the cinema is a great deal more than the sum ofactor's performances. All painting is not just portraiture.L.I want cinema to regard the audience as an intelligent ally and not patronise it.I was never very keen on those theatre-experiments where the audience is supposed toparticipate - I'am not very keen on those theatre-in-the-round jobs where part ofaudience can look at another part of the audience - I don't particuliarly like it when a filmhas an interval and the lights go up. I like to go to a cinema and sit in the seat one secondbefore the film begins.... and if it were possible I would instantly leave the cinema themoment the film ended.Wich is all to say that I have no thought of especial camaraderie with an audience to theextent of provoking it into any sort of discussion, argument or debate. I would like torespect the audience's right to their own delibaration on the subject.The purpose - my purpose - is not didactic or educative - as some may think when acinema of ideas is mentioned. The cinema that I enjoy to watch and to make - oftenworks on a sort of basis wich says - what happens if you put this idea with that one -consider the implications of this phenomenon with this attitude. How would this turnout if you did it like this?. On one sort of level - it is not unlike a conversation - or inliterary terms - a ruminative essay on a given subject wrapped around a narrative - wichhopefully - entertains. And entertains on all the cinematic levels possible.


In that sense, I would like to regard an audience as an ally - a conversational ally - that isnot obliged to be "moved", or manipulated or tricked or coerced into anywhere he or shedoens't want to go - that can retain some detachment from events - and can findevidence of a tone wich says - look this is a film - a fabrication - wich embraces all sortsof information a subject for your enjoyment. What I'd particularly like you to enjoy isvisual, sensuous images made up of light - wich is the only true cinematic characteristic -that is not ignoring what others have said or suggested or done - in a world that isconstantly fascinating and bizzare ........... against this background - here is a narrative -an artificial construct that holds all the information together - not so you should onlywant to know what happens - but be just as interested in how it happens ...........However - such a model for cinema is not too familiar.I have watched people leave the cinema when a film of mine is being shown ... and I haveobserved that there are often three separate audiences in one - the first part of theaudience - usually small - leave very quickly - maybe within the first ten minutes -sometimes sooner - I get the impression that they go straight to the box-office and askfor their money back - I presume - no doubt to comfort my discomfort - that they havesomehow been misinformed and have come into the wrong cinema expecting somethingelse...The second part of the audience leave around 40 minute mark - about a third of the waythrough the film - this must be around ten o'clock on an evening performance - so Icomfort myself by presuming that they have a train to catch or the baby-sitter won't stayafter 11 o'clock - wich is unlikely because most audiences don't need baby-sitters becausethey haven't got babies - because they are under 25 .... this secound group is larger thanthe first lot and much more worrying because they have obviously given me the benefit ofthe doubt - and found the film seriously wanting .... they stayed until they couldobviously stay no longer. I am convinced that they are the most dangerous - because theyleave determined to tell everyone how bad the movie was and how they walked out of it.......The third part of the audience stay. But by and large I still don't know how they think. Iremeber going to a film where the audience rocked with appreciative laughter from startto finish yet sixty per cent of them returned a questionaire saying that the movie wasindifferent and they would probably have forgotten it within 24 hours ...M.Where does the idea for a film come from? The history of the cinema suggest that most ofthe ideas come from other art-forms - from the theatre - from the novel - from otherliterary sources - diaries, television adaptions - even from opera. The secound largecategory would be from biography - faithful, unfaitful or fictionalised. Then from socalledreal-life events .... and then ........ and at a very small percentage of the total film spectrum - can there be said to beideas that are conceived and fashioned entirely for the cinema. Does this matter? Afterall it is difficult to accredit Shakespeare with an ariginal plot. I think it does matter.


First of all it suggest that cinema continues to be a bastard art - unable to conceive itsown material, to give birth to its own children. Secoundly, using material from other artformsunconsciously tends to imprint the cinema product with aims, format and functionof the original literary form - that is why the majority of cinema is constructed aroundthe telling of a story through pychologically-motivated characters that is liftedwholeheartedly from the late 19th century and early 20th century novel. DominantWestern cinema can be said to be the history of the illustrated, dramatised novel.Thirdly - it is common wisdom that a good book rarely makes a good film - so that a goodwork - and if it is a good work then it must have depended on its success on its marriageof form to content to language and structure - is deconstructed from those parts it wasgood in - it does not seem to me a worthwhile job to do this - destroy the very reasons forits creative success - and it may quite possibly destroy the book's value even further -how much evidence is there that a bad or indifferent film can destroy the readership of agood book?The simplest answer as to why cinema is arranged like this - is mainly to do withminimising risks on a known and calculable project or capitalising on a product thatalready has achieved success. If this wasn't demoralising enough for cinema... muchmore disappointing is the fact that writers do not seem to want to write directly for thecinema - or if they do - they do so in an attitude of some patronage - simply and oftencynically to make money. There is also a curiuos antagonism - more then once I haveheard a sreen-writer complain with some vehemence that his screen-play was badly orindifferently filmed - and it was the last time he was going to write for somone else todirect - the result - the writer goes back to the novel - sells the novel-rights to make a filmand film is poorer and beholden again to literature.Does cinema have to start with the written word at all? Does the cinema need writers?Godard suggested that sripts were only good for producers to raise money. Employing awriter - certainly makes a film-director a different animal - perhaps only an animal whointerprets - and not a primary creator - a conductor and not a composer.N.The cinema has been around for some ninety-odd years and - certainly in the West -shows many signs of decay. Ninety-odd years is a good span of time for an art-form -about the lenght of 14th century fresco painting - about the lenght of the Golden Age ofDutch easel painting - both of wich relate intimately to a political and social success of acertain kind - when the history of cinema is written - will it too been seen to be linked toa political and social success of a certain kind.Art-movements seem to obey - like everything else - the orthodox laws - conceptions,birth, adolescene, maturity, senility and death - and the signs of decay are alwayssimiliar. There are always certain common characteristics. Thinking primarily of thevisual arts including architecture - the characteristics are - the mass departure of popularinterest, a general complacency at the centre of things, a shrill and often bad-temperednostalgia, a repetition of motifs and a tendency to decorate and embellish rather thaninvent, costlier and more costlier productions as tough to compensate for invention,entrenched antagonism to new ways of thinking, a movement towards grosser andgrosser forms, a perculiar parochialism at the centre of things so that more power is heldby less sophisticated personalities, no new technical innovations - restrictive practicesand Ludditism to protect what's already there, financial losses sustained by


diversification and grownt of parasites - growing bodies of critics and theorists anddogmatist on the increase - turning the art into politics, setting up polarised camps,making things respectable, inventing private languages, setting up academic bodies ...... many of these signs are present in contemporary film culture - it would beentertaining to think them all through with examples - like Hollywood spending vastsums of money in the belief that costlier movies are good exhibitions ventures - like theceiling of Roman Baroque churches in the last throes of the Counter-Reformation -swirling with twenty thousand extras in a strained attempt to convince the world itknows best .....Three characteristics are specially relevant and interesting - the exodus of teh popularvote, a new technology and the growth of the parasites ... the last is the least importantand the most ironical - and the one we can be most amused by ....In Britain there now exists more film festivals than there has ever been before, moreeducational centres for film, more newly-invented film-studies curriculums for officialstate examinations - such that fourteen-year olds can study in depth - movies that youwould have to be 18 to see in the cinema ... and a move to enshine the dying film-culturein the building of museums - like the recently-opened London Museum of the MovingImage for example - perhaps a sure sign of the parasites arranging themselves around adeathbed.The proliferation of film festivals in the West - with an almost proportional decrease incinemas ... is an extraordinary and peculiar phenomenon - and not just a little cynical -where towns and cities and banks and institutions are using film as an adjunct to theirtourist activities - it's now possible for a film-director with a tolerably good festival-filmto travel the world - with all expenses paid - from festival to festival without evertouching home- ground .... discussing his film - with help of translators - in thirtydifferent languages - meeting mayors and aldermen and Ministers of Culture and artsadministratorsand police-chiefs and politicians - even prime Ministers - who couldn'ttell a Godard from a Fellini .... but always - always - accompanied by the same travellingcircus of international film-critics and film-experts and film-jounalists and film-cultureparasites ......But the connection between the exodus of the popular vote and the new tecnology is thecrucial centre of the phenomenon - together they are not actively stabbing the patient butjust preparing to let him waste away through starvation ... but does it matter? I wouldsay perversely - and loudly - in the long run - No - it does not. I certainly want tocontinue to create moving images that are bigger than human scale - that are a wraparoundphenomenon in the dark - minor spectacles that engulf you with image andsound - but what is important is not the details or the method of the technology - what isimportant is the inventive and innovative desire to make images that interpret the worldin some faschion. This activity will inevitably continue - and the chances are that thevocabulary to do this will increase. The vocabalary has been increasing since Lauscaux - Isee no reason now why it should go into reverse because the cinema is dying ......... wich is all to say - that cinema is no more - and no less - than part of the developmentof the long pursuit of philosophic speculation of the world through visual means ... andthat it must take its place in that continuity - so that we can consider its best products as


further examples in that tradition - so that - for example - we can feel easy about makingqualitative comparisons between Rembrandt's Nightwatch and Eisenstein's Ivan theTerrible.U7O.A rich and fat Dutch merchant dealing in spices, aphrodisiacs, bulbs, saffron and silk isfascinated by the small animals that return accidentally with his cargo marmosets,parrots, toads, butterflies. He keeps them on board, looking after them with greatdiligence and affection, apprehensive that the port authorities will ask that they bedestroyed.The merchant has a demanding wife who waits impatiently for the cargoes to come inand takes the best silks and furs as soon as the ship docks; it is largely through hermoney and her dowry that the merchant has prospered - he is fearful that she will scornhis small menagerie.The merchant secretly pays and encourages his subordinates to bring him back moreanimals - wich he temporarily puts in a quayside lock-up untill he can spirit them awayto his hidden zoo outside Haarlem. He is cheated and extortionately fleeced by the cargomasters- but he is so engrossed - he either doesn't notice - or he doesn't care.From collecting harmless exotics he takes to collecting larger monkeys and thenprimates. On one return of cargo - there is a special specimen awaiting him - he warilyapproaches its cage in the hold of an old and leaky ship - its a pygmy. He is fascinated -he begins to spend large sums of money on perilous adventures to collect furtherspecimens - exotic natives - giraffe-necked women - obese Bantu. He soon has aconsiderable collection in cages - a reprehensible activity - but in his own lights - hetreats them with great care and gentleness. In his credulity he is presented with fake"wildmen" - vagrants blackened with pitch and tanning-oil. Despite all his precautions -his laviscious, greedy wife discovers his collection - and takes an unhealthy interest.The merchant becomes hopelessly entangled - paying blackmails to various people forfear of discovery. Some of his animals are threatened and several are stolen anddrowned. His wife gets mauled and is affected with a compromising disease that keepsher in noisy misery.One day in despair - his funds almost depleted - with the last possibility of stayingsolvent in his grasp - a silent ship comes in - with a small crew - the cargo is for him - heparts with his last mortgage-possibility - there is nothing in the ship .... he searches -convinced he has been cheated.At the back of the hold - he finds a unicorn shining in the dark. He watches it - a rareanimal - so rare one has never been caught before.In the morning, the merchant is gone - a huge hole has been broken through the sidetimbers of the ship. In the dawn sunlight - the fat merchant is seen riding away acrossthe water on the unicorn.P.There are still those who say cinema is just an entertainment medium devised to whileaway leisure time. There are other who say cinema is an art - but then says it's


pretentious when it attemps to tackle something they would be perfectly happy to payattention to in the theatre.Cinema is always pretentious - a film is never real - but a game of pretence that theaudience has agreed to play when it willingly exchanges money for a ticket for a seat.I would feel happier with the prejudices of the first category than with the sloppythinkingof the second.Menno ter Braak said that - "the simplest things have to be said in an embarrassinglyloud manner". Perhaps a better thing to do - is not to shout - since that probably eitherfrightens or antagonises - but to keep repeating the simplest things - "Cinema is an art" -and persistently prove this truism by making good examples.Q.I want to see films that are designed to have a longer screen life than six months and canbe infinility and repeatedly viewable with profit.A producer has said that if an audience cannot completely understand a movie the firsttime round - then the movie has failed. I am not for movies that deliberately mystify forthe sake of being difficult but I am intriged by films that give their meaning up slowly.The cinema - once upon a time - used to be arranged so that you could sit in your seat allevening and watch the film go around three times - I sometimes anticipated with greatdelight the prospect of doing just that. I'd like to make a movie where an audience wouldbe pleased to stay and watch trhee times over in one sitting.Repeated listening is important - even necessary - for the success of much music. Poetryis designed for multiple re-readings. Novels are reread. The second and the third andmaybe the fourth time of reading a book or viewing a film are not necessarily the sameexperiences. To watch a film from the start - having already seen it all the way through -is a different experience that seeing it through the first time.The simple advice given of course - is buy or rent the video - and then reviewing ispainless and unlimited - but I think if a film is designed for the big-screen - that that isthe place where it should be seen.QR.As a whole cinema takes few riskes - it could be described as a conservative medium.When the risks are taken - they almost certainly are in content - never in structure, rarelyin style - the psychological story- telling mode - event follwed by investigation into causeor characters examined to find motive - is ever present - von Kliest is not a favouriteauthor - and the style is realism - with maybe three degrees of experiment permitted oneither side - in dominant cinema - legitimate stylism is permitted with music only ....- the risk in content - a little more sex - a little blasphemy a new social issue previouslytabboo - have probably be thoroughly explored years before - probably in the novel or theplay that the films springs from in the first place - hordes of the righteous would never


picket the bookshops like they'd picket the cinema: Cinema will normally only take therisk after the risk has been taken for them ...I have found that television - Britisch television - and not only Channel four - have takenfar more risks than the cinema is prepared to - and risks in style and structure -Ironically of course - the product of those risks probably reaches a far larger audiencethan product in the cinema - so again why should cinema take the risks - if television willtake them for them - another example of how the biting edge has been taken away fromcinema ....S.The cinema - more than any other art - is an artifice, a trick, an artificial affair, a sleightof-hand,an illusory activity ... and the mechanics of that illusion - unless you are veryinnocent or unobservant - are patently obvious. As you sit in the cinema you can see howthat illusion is manufactured - as that beam of light travels above your head and hits thescreen.Compared to this trickery - the theatre or the ballet or the opera will always give you atthe very centre of the work - flesh and blood - complete with human dimensions that arerecognisable and palpable and frail. Painting, sculpture, literature will always give youfinite objects to touch, hold and hold on to - to preview at your own pace and in your owntime.And yet the collusion between the tricks of light in a darkened space and theparticipation of an audiance is probably never greater in any other art form. A largegroup of people - often thousands strong - agree to suspend disbelief and play the game -a game now learnt over 92 years and 95 days if we count from Lumiere's first showing ofthat railway locomotive on the 28th December 1895 ... so that collectively as an audiancewe know the rules - and the collection of rules are very, very sophisticated. We do notmove to get out of the way of Lumiere's train as that first audiance is supposed to havedone, we do not worry for example, that within half a second a woman can be a quarterof a mile a way and then so close you couldn't hide her mouth with a double-decker bus... or worry that a woman with an face that big would be eighty metres away from herfeet.Agreeing to sit in the dark and face in one direction for anything up to two hours are thethree simplest rules in the game of cinema - the screed of necessary regulations andconventions and rules to obey and observe after that - would fill a rule book as large as atelephone directory.With such artifice at stake and such a sophisticated game to be played - why put it at theservice of reality when you can experience reality by touching the man or the woman inthe seat beside you or by simply walking out of the cinema into the street?I enjoy those films ... and wish to manufacture those films ... that are wholly film works... films that acknowledge their own artifice ... that self- reflexedly demonstrate theirartificiality - that do not pretend to be a window-on-the-world ar a slice-of-life butacknowledge and accept that what they are is only a film and nothing more than a film ...that plays wholeheartedly the game of cinema. This sort of film has great self- knowledgeand obeys the Sophoclean injunction to "know theyself". To do that is to play theaudience the biggest compliment possible.


T.I remember being very irritated and disappointed when I first saw a feature film of mineon broadcast television. The film had been devised and constructed and manufacturedvery explicity for the cinema and the television screen did not at all serve it well.Despite carefull and sympathetic transference of the film to video tape for televisiontransmission - much was inevitable lost. Stylistic use of symmetry was disturbed, carefulcolour-coding was coarsened.Night-scenes disappeared into a blue-grey gloom, blacks became grey.The overall deliberate static quality of the shots became unsatisfactory since what wasthere to be looked at and examined and speculated on - was basically invisible.However - to complain is to waste everyone's time - and the lesson in some ways is nowunderstood - there is nothing to be gained from abhoring the differences between thetwo media. I believed at that time that if the cinema had the full use of the whole range ofthe alphabet - all the consonants and all the vowels - the television was only allowed thevowels - I have since understood this to be a very unsatisfactory analogy - because thetwo media have different sets of vocabularies, almost different syntaxes and certainly adifferent grammar.The television screen - and this must mean the average domestic television screen sittingin the corner of the living-room without stereo-sound - prefers the close-up, is uneasyabout deep black, doens't like bright reds, cannot cope with moving bright lights againstblackness, is very sympathic to camera movement, cannot guarantee symmetry, cannotreadily convey really complex sound-tracks - is not good at holding together suddenextremes of colour and tonal contrast.The majority of films are now - sooner or later - seen on television - television pays fortheir manufacture - directly or indirectly.Consequently it is no surprise that many film-makers now make the cinema product withan eye to its appearance on the TV screen - the compositions are arranged to always fillthe centre of the screen - a television safe cut- off area is marked out on the camera viewfinder- a restless camera is preferred to a static one - brightly-lit close-ups are carefullymodeled against contrasting backgrounds - there is the strictest minimum of wide- shots- night-scenes are invariably extravagantly overlit - extravagant amounts of detailing iscurtailed. A new special langugae is developing for drama on TV - it is curiously like ashorthand.A competition is held every year for the most successful rendering of Rembrandt'spainting of the Nightwatch as a live tableau.Any group of people can enter - and mostly they are amateur theatrical clubs, youthorganisations,city-guilds and art-appreciation societies. The rules are severe and thejudges are very strict - as befits the live reconstruction of a national asset. The prize ismodest - the kudos of winning is the main benefit. The aim of the competition is toreproduce with its twenty-five-odd characters as exactly as possible - wich is notnecessarily that easy - since there are many dark and ambigiuos areas in the painting andsome imagination is required to fill them sympathetically. The final tableau has to beheld for three minutes and it is not enough just to get the poses, costumes andaccessories correct - but to achieve the spirit of the piece, its lighting and its mood.Another added conundrum was that the painting has been cut down from its original size


and two narrow strips of canvas have been lost or destroyed. Marks are added to thescore for the tableau wich most sympathetically recreates the two narrow side-strips.All kinds of personal academic animosities, theatrical bitchiness, thieving of props,artistic traumas - are usual characteristics of the competition. One year - amongst fourother entries, three aggressively competing theatrical groups clash dramatically - thereare fights and bloody noses. On the day of the competition - during the silent threeminutestageing of all the groups in the great hall - there is a pistol-shot and one of thecompetitors - in the tableau that most deserves to win - lies dying.An investigation at once takes place and it soon becomes apparant that it is far from aneasy mystery to solve. Not only are there many people impersonating the samecharacters from the painting - but an examination of the various life-histories of thehistorical figures of the painting becomes necessary. Eventually the murderer isnarrowed down to one of the figures in the missing side-panels - but it becomes clearthat no-one can be convicted because the essential evidence of the original missing sidepanelsis necessary and they have been lost years ago. And yet ....V.I first started making films at a time when many independent film-makers in NorthernEurope and America and Canada were concerned with creating a non-narrative cinema -most of whom incidentally were in some way supported or indebted to the activities ofthe late Jaques Ledoux of the Belgian Cinematheque.Some would say that the history of European culture in the 20th century has been anexperiment in denying the art forms their life-blood - music without harmony, paintingwithout figuration - the non-narrative cinema of the early sixties was perhaps now tryingto do the same - cinema without narrative. It was doing this - for positive reasons - it wasreacting against the two dominant characteristics of cinema - the building of a filmaround the actor and around the plot.To throw the narrative out was to throw away the cement, the binding- structure thatholds the material together - so some other device or structure had to be found to replaceit. Some film-makers turned to music wich seemed a cheat since the structure wouldthen be someone else's - some looked for more universal structures - frame counts, timecounts - equations between film-time and real-time following Godards's F W T T F F Sdictum that Film Was Truth Twenty-Four Frames a Second - there's a metronomicstructure based on some Holy Writ of cinema. ....I - along with others - used number counts, repetitive cycles, simple equations, varioussymmetries, and of course - wryly - the alphabet. The alphabet has become thestructuring device of Western academic, political, social and bureaucratic life. We are allplaced in the universial order of civilisation according to the initials of our surname.I soon realised that I had limited use for a non-narrative universe - even if it could beconstructed - wich I doubt - since anything that moves through time could be said tohave a narrative.However - these experiments in neutral structural form stayed with me and areimportant to me still - because that way I need not be exclusively in the thrall ofnarrative wich I have always found to be an ephemeral thing anyway - capable of taking


you anywhere without design - why have three characters when you can have four ? -why keep the hero alive when you can kill him?The abstract neutral structures are like templates for a grand design - on wich like graphlinescharted on a grid - we can present any life, information or proposition.I enjoy those art-works where the marriage between content and form are demonstrablyshown to be in balance - where the form is in evidence showing through the bones of thecontent - like the rib-cage of the cow that holds and shapes the animal but does notexclude your attention to it - I enjoy that rigour ... and am irritated and disappointed bythe subservience of so much film to sloppy, ambling, amorphous structure.WWW.As you may have guessed - I take a great delight in painting. It represents for me - amongmuch else - an enormous fund, as good as being in exhaustible - of problems andsolution. Every sort of problem and every sought of solution. Admittedly there is nosound - or at least there was't until Rauchenberg introduced a transistor-radio in to apainting in 1959 - a rare experiment and not on the whole pursued.The problems embrace every branch of experience - and each problem posed has beensolved in some way - otherwise you wouldn't have the painting. This activity has beencarried out by individulas working alone and for the most part in uncharted waters. Youmay say that there have been examples of more than one painter working on a singlecanvas - but they are almost as rare - comparatively - as Rauchenberg's transistor-radio.By and large it is the most successful solutions that have survived for painting has quitestrict disciplines. Paintings - unlike architecture or literature - are easily disposed ofphisically - and if they do not in some measure solve the solution they set themselves - inthe end and before very long - they get lost, they disappear - though - like small coins andhairpins - no one may consciously see them go .....The problems that a painter is set or sets himself can be social ... political, religiuos,educational ... or personal - cathartic, erotic, narcissistic .... technical - questions ofrepresentation, accuracy and logistics .... asthetic ....There is at least two thousand years of evidence of finding solutions of how to boost amonarch's status, depict a religious experience, make a worshippable icon, stimulatepatriotic thoughts, make a fat man thinner , a small town taller, a wealthy manresponsible and a begger dignified, how to fix an ephemeral landscape or a flower or aface, how to stimulate sexual appetite or cool it, how to show distance, epitomisegeometry, explain geography, how to sit eight people around a dining-table so that everyface can be seen - how to ............ and all these solutions are immediately tangible as objects - they are physical andvissible - they can be held and touch and the viewer can chose his or her own time inwich to vire them . . Although of course often the language needs studying - yhey arenever completely incomprehensible like Sanskrit Seven, Old Babylonian, Hartilease


Linea B or Tasmanian or for that matter - like Dutch to an Englishman that hasn't learntDutch - Dutch paintings are readily comprehensible to Englishmen.What is particularly exiting is that very very few paintings by there nature are linear -that is to say - very very few paintings are not telling the viewer many things at one andthe same time.X.I am aware - as I am sure that you are too - that the sort of cinema under description isriddled with paradoxes and characteristics that seem scarely reconcilable.The first paradox. I believe there is much evidence to suggest that the cinema is dying -yet I want to continue to make films for the cinema. How do I reconcile that?The secound paradox. The cinema that will support smaller and more - independentmovie-making is financed very largely through television - indirectly through the currentstate of the film-distribution system wich needs foreign television transmission finance -and very directly through direct television funding support. Altough there are projectsthat I am making and would like to continue to make exclusively for the small screen - Ido not want to make feature films that are made, composed and scaled exclusively for thesmall screen.A third paradox. I want to make a personal-signature cinema wich has no guaranteedresponse at the box-office - but I want to make it with all the professionalism andexpertise and vocubulary that can be expected of the fully funded dominant cinema ...and in a basically conservative medium that believes the cinema is a vehicle forpsychological drama and linear narrative, I want to take all manner of risks - in contant,in structure, in style, in provocation, in speculation.How can these paradoxes be reconciled?An interruption for a vowel - the letter Y.YYY.A religeous melodrama.On the night of a comet when the wells are miraculously full of sweet water, assisted bythree superstitious peasant midwives, a son is born without effort to a saddler's wife inthe upper rooms of a town house in Schinnen. The afterbirth is speckled with gold.The birth of such a beautiful, healthy child to a 47-year old, plain women with a largepurple birthmark on her face is seen as something of a miracle. Gossip suggests that sheis not the mother of the child at all.The woman has three daughters of 18, 15 and 13 who at once idolise their baby brother -and the father - only modestly successful as a saddle- manufacturer is feted for this


apparent fecundity. A wet nurse is employed for the child because the mother is unableto feed it.The proud sisters and the father and the midwives - against the mother's wishes - paradethe beautiful baby in the streets as a talisman of fecundity. Gullible peasants touch thebaby and squabble over possesing its urine- soaked swaddling.The success and popularity of the event gives ideas to the eldest sister - and she plans toexploit the situation - especially when she is given money by a wealthy childless womento collect a phial of the child's spittle. She consequently rents the child out to blesshouses with fecundity. Soon the child is in demand at weddings and conceptions, by theapothecary for aphrodisiacs, by the maimed to be blessed. Dressed in elaborate clothingand sat on a throne in the local cathedral, the child is paraded around the outlayingvillages by the 18-year old who now wears fine clothes and looks - quite consciously - likean image of the Virgin Mary. The child blesses orchards and nut-groves, fields, stables,pig-yards, new roads, windmills, dykes - even chicken-runs. The local church is sceptical- especially so in the person of a priest and his illegitimate neurotic son who is trainingfor the priesthood.The 18-year old sister is so successful she begins to claim that the child is hers - shealmost completely convinces herself. Then she begins to make claims for a virgin-birthfor wich she is ridiculed. She permits a public examination of herself to enforce her claimwich is half-believed by the credulous - and after failing to bribe the wet-nurse to goalong with her plans, she initmidates her, keeping her under lock and key. The wet nurseis now the only person who has the child's true welfare at heart.The 18-year old sister arrogantly taunts and argues with the conceited and scepticalpriest's son and then gradually falls in love with him. She dreams of some image of Holymarried but carnal bliss - with him as Joseph. But she is in a quandry - because he doesnot believe her story of virgin-birth and could not consider marrying a deflowered virgin.The girl is now rich - the three sisters parade in fine clothes causing jealousy and emnity.The 18-yaer old behaves like a queen - but to get the priest's son to marry her - she finallytells him that the child is not her mother's - taking him to see her mother in what by nowis virtual imprisonment. The mother - fallen into a decline and old passed her years isunconvincing proof. The priest's son now believes the child is the sister's but that shemust have whored to concieve it - consequently he treats her like one - with the child assilent witness. Soon after he is gored by a cow in labour - an ironical death not missed bythe sceptical. The 18- year old is distraught - the church thinks that sh is a witch - thevillages think she is exploiting the child - and the child is taken from her and placed inthe care of the wet-nurse under the guidance of the church.The church begins to captilise on its asset - selling the babies' bodily fluids for exorbitantamounts. The sister - envious of the wealth, and seriuosly disturbed by her grief for herlover - creeps into the cathedral one night and smothers the child on the altar-steps. Sheis arrested. She claims virginity again because a locaol edict declares that a virgin cannotbe executed. To find a way out of the legal problem - the priest arranges for the girl to belocked up in the local guard-house with the visiting militia who oblige the legalrequirements - and the girl dies of exhaustion.


Her mother is hung and the father commits suicide, the two sisters are taken intoprostitution. The baby lies in state in the cathedral until rival townspeople strip thecorpse and dismember it for trophies.Within weeks, the town withers, the wells dry up, the crops burn, the steeple fals killingthe priest, the militia die of cholera. And the wet-nurse retires to a nunnery.ZZZ.It has been said that photography was the best thing that could have happened topainting because it cleared the ground to allow painting to get on with what it did best -it is no accident that the growth in the popularity and significance of photographycoincided with the European move towards non-figurative experiments wich have goneon in painting throughout the whole of this century - and therefore gone on in design andtherefore entered into every single part of our lives .... perhaps television, by the same orsimilar means, can clear the ground to allow and encourage cinema to do what it is bestat. Wich means that by no longer shouldering the reponsibilities of being a popularmedium, cinema can become investigative and vigorous again - going places where it hasnever been before, exploring new ground, rethinking the whole relationships of image tosound to narrative.However, I think that the world's public will not give up the sensation of a big screen inthe dark very willingly - though you might not have to leave your home to experience it -and what I look forward to - already it is beginning to happen - is the making of amarriage - not a fixed financial marriage of convenience - but a true technological - andfor me - most importantly - an aesthetic marriage - between the big screen and television- using both languages and visions to create something entirely new, rich and strange. Itwas a brand-new technology that created the cinema in the first place.It is impossible to reserve technoloical change allied to social habit - the nostalgics arewasting their time - but the demise of the cinema doesn't matter in the end - whatmatters is the long continuity of the desire for the visual expression of ideas and dreamsand visions - and nobody is going to suppress, destroy or lose that. It is always going toleave evidence.The Cinema Militans Lecture 1988 was delivered by Peter Greenaway on ...September1988, in St. Pieters Church in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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