70 year old iconoclastic film maker Peter Greenaway has built an utterly unique oeuvre of visually compelling and morally questionable films. His newest film, Goltzius and the Pelican Company spins a tale of vivid eroticism and religious hypocrisy. The hero is 16th-century Dutch engraver Hendrik Goltzius, who convinces a wealthy patron to fund a revolutionary new printing press by having his employees enact lusty scenes from the Old Testament. An unrelenting provocateur, Greenaway doesn't miss an opportunity to enact those Biblical chapters that feature threesomes, voyeurism, masturbation and incest. The religious establishment is by turns seduced, scandalized, and up in arms.
There are many ways to fault Greenaway as a storyteller: His compositions are over-meticulous; his targets are well battered; he seems to lack basic human warmth. Still it can't be denied that his movies provide rich food for thought and a feast for the senses. In the end, they're glorious. This film looks to carry on his singular reputation.
Peter Greenaway will be in Seattle this Sunday, May 19, to present Goltzius and the Pelican Company, as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. If tickets aren't sold out yet, they are available here.