Dir/scr:Peter Greenaway. Neth-Sp-Lux-Hung-It-Ger-Russ. 2004. 120mins.
Youmay, to paraphrase a football commentator, have thought it was all over. Wellit is now. The final part of Peter Greenaway's seven-hour Tulse Luperopus, From Sark To Finish, unrolled at the Venice Film Festival. Itssubdued reception came as a marked contrast to the anticipatory buzz that
Thelatest child of Greenaway's surreal archivist's imagination, Tulse Luper IIIis, like its predecessors, digressive to its very soul, and the only plottension is provided by the countdown (or count-up) to the last of the 92suitcases which the film's eponymous hero left behind during his travels, andwhich provide a kind of irregular thematic bassline underpinning the unlikely plot.
Acinematic curio, Tulse Luper's theatrical distribution prospects areminimal, and it is difficult to imagine many people sitting through this onDVD: but it is as a work of art (tied in with exhibitions, books, and no lessthan three different websites) that Greenaway's magnum opus must be judged.
Justin case you haven't been following, the Tulse Luper Suitcases projectcentres on the adventures in time and space of one Tulse Luper (JJ Field), whowas born in Wales in 1911 and went missing, presumed dead, in 1987. Lupermanages to intersect with several of the significant events of the 20thcentury, from the discovery of uranium deposits in Colorado in 1928 to the ColdWar.
Hedoes so as what Greenaway calls a "professional prisoner", passing in and outof a series of military, civil domestic or imagined prisons all over the world.Always chirpy and boyishly Oxonian, never deterred by his serial confinement,Luper engages in various schemes and projects during his travels, collectingodd things in 92 suitcases (92 is the atomic number of uranium), writingletters and lists, inventing games, coming up with hare-brained ideas.
Heis, in other words, Peter Greenaway's alter ego - something that is broughthome by allusions to Greenaway's films (though these are thinner on the groundhere than in Part II) and exhibitions - such as a show of seven Tulse Lupersuitcases which was hosted by a gallery in Ghent in 2003.
Post-modern'You bet. The indulgently co-produced ego trip of a British eccentric who takeshimself way to seriously' Also - but at least it's a visually andintellectually stimulating ride, with lavish high-res digital photography andimaginative use of scrolling text, insets, CG effects and other technical toysthat the Greenaway of The Draughtsman's Contract never even dreamed of.
PartIII doesnot differ greatly from the first two , and there's no reason why it should -this has always been, in Greenaway's mind, a single work - and it will be shownas such, for the first time, at Montreal Film Festival in October, in all itsseven-hour glory.
Openingon the island of Sark at the end of World War II, the last leg of the journeytakes Luper to Barcelona, Turin, Venice, Budapest, and the East-West Germanborder, leading him on a merry jig through the film's co-production territories(a coincidence, surely').
Someviewers may be offended by an episode in the Budapest sequence involving thecorpses of Jews drowned by the Nazis - but this is part of a wider argumentabout Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved more Jewish lives thanOskar Schindler: and in any case, the intellectual nature of the Tulse Luperexercise makes it as impervious to moral criticism as it is to strong emotion.It's like a lot of contemporary art: either you take its pretensions on board,and go with it: or you hate it.
Prod co: The Kasander Film Company
Co-prods: ABS Production, DeluxProductions, Focus Film, GAM Film, Net Entertainment, 12A Film Studios
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films
Exec prods: Carlo Dusi, WouterBarendecht, Michael J Werner
Prod: Kees Kassander
Co-prods: Eva Baro & AntonioSole, Jimmy de Brabant, Aron Sipos, Gherardo Pagliei & Elisabetta Riga,Klaus Volkenborn & Sandor Soeth, Alexander Mikhaylov
Cine: Reiner van Brummelen
Prod des: Marton Agh, Billy Leliveld,Pirra, Bettina Schmidt, Davide Bassan
Eds: Elmer Leupen, Chris Wyatt
Music: Borut Krzisnik
Main cast: JJ Field, Roger Rees,Renata Litvinova, Anna Galiena, Ana Torrent, Ornella Muti, Jochum Ten Haaf