Friday, October 30, 2009

Rembrandt’s J’Accuse



From Art Forum:

Greenaway methodically deconstructs the painting, probing thirty-one of the fifty mysteries he found within it, and for much of the film he’s a talking head—a lofty yet accessible lecturer/prosecutor—contained in a small panel center-screen. He not only examines the placement and dress of the figures and the significance of the symbolism (a phallic spear, a dead chicken, a dwarfish girl holding a coffee pot) but also analyzes Rembrandt’s use of artificial light, contrasts The Night Watch with other militia paintings, and reveals how Rembrandt satirized Italian art. The actors from Nightwatching, including Martin Freeman as Rembrandt, re-create moments from the story (but none of the big dramatic moments), while Saskia (Eva Birthistle), the artist’s wife, gives testimony. Greenaway often films the live-action scenes in shadowy settings to echo Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro.