“Cinema is impoverished, visually,” explains Peter Greenaway to us viewers early on in his (relatively) new film, REMBRANDT’S J’ACCUSE, a combination analysis of and lecture on the Dutch artist’s famous painting from 1642, The Night Watch. Complete with the staged re-enact-
ments and documentary footage, the movie puts forth Greenaway’s theory that, via this painting, the artist has revealed an incident of murder, including the victim, his murderers and others involved in the nefarious deed.
How “impoverished” visually cinema might be is ques-
tionable, TrustMovies thinks, as there are so many varied and vivid visual delights to be had from the array of international filmmakers currently at work. Perhaps Mr. Greenaway means that cinema is impoverished according to his own particular standard and taste. In any case, it is true that this writer/director, from The Draughtsman’s Contract onwards (my first encounter with him), makes his viewers look hard and then piece together what is happening. In Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, however, he helps them along by explaining in detail his theory and its “proof.”
thing from sexual proclivities to firearms, phallic symbols, conspira-
cies and holding on to power. You’ll get a bracing mix of history, sociology, economics and psychology – Freudian and otherwise.
ted the analysis, lecture and documentary footage, I could have done without the re-enactments. It’s not that they are badly hand-
led (not with actors on the level of Eva Birthistle (above), Jodhi May (below, center), Martin Freeman and Natalie Press on hand). Yet these scenes do not really add enough to the mix, and further, they sometimes clunk – interrupting Greenaway’s good lecture and taking away from the matter at hand via unnecessary repetition. One seldom needs to show and tell, but Greenaway does so here.