GOLTZIUS AND THE PELICAN COMPANY (120', The Netherlands, 2012)

 

GOLTZIUS AND THE PELICAN COMPANY tells the story of Hendrick Goltzius, a late 16th century Dutch printer and engraver of erotic prints. Goltzius seduces the Margrave of Alsace into paying for a printing press to make and publish illustrated books. In return, he promises him an extraordinary book of pictures illustrating biblical stories from the Old Testament related to sexual taboos - erotic tales of Adam and Eve, Lot and his daughters, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah and John the Baptist and Salome. To tempt the Margrave further, Goltzius and his printing company will offer to perform dramatizations of these erotic stories for his court.

Director: PETER GREENAWAY

 

Cast: F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, RAMSEY NASR, KATE MORAN, GIULIO BERRUTI, ANNE LOUISE HASSING, FLAVIO PARENTI, LARS EIDINGER, HALINA REIJN, PIPPO DELBONO

Screenplay: PETER GREENAWAY

Cinematography: REINIER VAN BRUMMELEN

Editing: ELMER LEUPEN, NCE

Music: MARCO ROBINO

Sound: HUIBERT BOON

Producer: KEES KASANDER

Production: KASANDER FILM



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“Creation, to me, is to try to orchestrate the universe to understand what surrounds us. Even if, to accomplish that, we use all sorts of stratagems which in the end prove completely incapable of staving off chaos.” (PETER GREENAWAY)

 

PETER GREENAWAY is one of the key voices of avant-garde contemporary cinema, one of the most ambitious and controversial experimental fi lmmakers of our times. Trained as a painter and heavily influenced by theories of structural linguistics, ethnography, and philosophy, PETER GREENAWAY’s films traversed often unprecedented ground, consistently exploring the boundaries of the medium by rejecting formal narrative structures in favor of awe-striking imagery, shifting meanings, and mercurial emotional tension, fascinated by formal symmetries and parallels, earning equal notoriety for its provocative eroticism, as well as its almost self-conscious pretentiousness. After four years of training as painter in London, he started making his own films in 1966. He has continued to make cinema in a great variety of ways, which has also informed his curatorial work and the making of exhibitions and installations in Europe from the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice and the Joan Miro Gallery in Barcelona to the Boymans van Beuningen Gallery in Rotterdam and the Louvre in Paris. He has an impressive body of work, consisting of 12 feature films and 50 short films and documentaries regularly nominated for major film festivals like Cannes, Venice and Berlin, exhibitions, visual installations, paintings, books, opera librettos. His first feature film, THE DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT, completed in 1982, received enormous critical acclaim and established him internationally as one of the most original and important filmmakers of our times, a reputation consolidated by his following films, of which we mention THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, THE PILLOW BOOK, THE TULSE LUPER SUITCASES, more recently NIGHTWATCHING amd REMBRANDT J'ACCUSE and the latest GOLTZIUS AND THE PELICAN COMPANY. He now lives and creates in Amsterdam.
 

In 2010, BIEFF started a wonderful collaboration with PETER GREENAWAY. He opened our BIEFF 2010 edition with an impressive Masterclass addressed especially to our main audience, Romanian cinema and visual art students and professionals, and in 2011 with his groundbreaking LIVE CINEMA VJ PERFORMANCE LUPERCYCLOPEDIA, a highly innovative audio-visual experiment intended to challenge the borders of film language and offer the audience a totally new cinematic experience, performance which was immensely successful all over the world, traveling in only 4 years to 14 countries: Australia, Belgium, Brasil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Starting with 2012, PETER GREENAWAY becomes the HONORARY PRESIDENT of the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF, generously joining us in our educational initiative.

 

Selective Filmography:

 

1982: The Draughtsman’s Contract

Film festivals: Edinburgh, Venice, London, New York, Berlin (Forum), Rotterdam, Sydney, Melbourne

1987: The Belly of an Architect

Film festivals: Cannes, Edinburgh, New York, Montreal, Chicago (Best Actor Award – Brian Dennehy)

1988: Drowning by Numbers

Film festivals: Cannes (Best Artistic Contribution Award), Edinburgh, Barcelona, Rio, New Delhi, Toronto

1989: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover

Film festivals: Cannes, Edinburgh, Rio de Janeiro

1991: Prospero’s Books

Film festivals: Venice, New York, Sao Paulo

1995: The Pillow Book

Film festivals: Cannes (Le Distinction Glace Gervais), Sitges (Best Film and Best Cinematography Awards)

1999: 8 ½ Women

Film Festivals: Cannes (competition)

2003: The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story

Film festivals: Cannes (competition), Cambridge, Edinburgh, Sitges, Naples, Ischia, Toronto

2003: The Tulse Luper Suitcases: Antwerp

Film festivals: Venice

2003: The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 3: From Sark to the Finish

Film festivals: Venice

2004: The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vaux to the Sea

Film festivals: Berlin

2007: Nightwatching

Film festivals: Venice

2008: Rembrandt’s J’Accuse

Film festivals: IDFA, Hot Docs Toronto, Rome, Pusan

 

Rome International Film Festival 2012 / Netherlands Film Festival 2012

 

The film suggests a great complexity of plotting on three different levels. First, there is what we could call “the Bible plotting”, an interpretation of six stories from the bible, with overtones of contemporary 1590 comprehension and a relevance to our modern-day understanding of these tales. Second, there is what we might call “the Margrave plotting”, a tightly-plotted drama of how the drama of the Bible stories affects the court of the Margrave and his retinue. And thirdly, “the Susannah and the Elders plotting”, demonstrating Goltzius’s obsession with erotica, his personal reasons for his equivocal behaviour and his sex-change.

 

There is also (...) a considerable referencing demand on biblical knowledge and painting iconography and an implicit desire for demonstrative sexual activity right across the board of sexual taboos – fornication, incest, adultery, pedophilia, prostitution and necrophilia. The project is also pro-atheist and anti-Christianity, and it also wishes to use the feature-film as an essay form. And it demands most excellent exhibitionist display strategies of pictorial exuberance, costume extravagance and state-of-the-art animation of celebrated paintings, and a state-of-the-art manipulation of some 30 famous paintings from Western art to re-arrange their chiaroscuro, ambience and drama.

 

In terms of “big ideas”, the film unapologetically wishes to discuss three themes – erotica in our times, the antagonism of Christianity and sex, and the invention of a new media. The paralleling of the bible stories with the 1590’s drama is essential, sharing metaphors back and forth, as well as the element of “discussion” with Goltzius commenting on the manufacture of the very imagery that he himself as a painter-printer is making, on the traditions of the classic iconography of the bible stories he is referring to. (...) Undoubtedly there is a discourse here about blasphemy, religious moralising, sexual hypocrisy and various states of sexual taboo, and the unsatisfactory way all religions deal with the apparently irreconcilable chasm between religious belief and sexuality.”  (PETER GREENAWAY)

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