Tuesday, November 9, 2010

8 1/2 Women

To those few who have followed along, I promise I am almost complete with my Greenaway "study." Nightwatching and The Baby of Macon are the only two films left for me to view. And, at the moment, it may be a bit before I get to those films. So, for now, I end with one final Greenaway film, 8 1/2 Women. It seems most fitting for this to be the last of the Greenaway films I review. In many ways, this is Greenaway's culmination as a filmmamker. Not only are many of the unusual elements of a Greenaway film on display, but many of the bits and pieces of previous films are at play.

The twinning of A Zed and Two Noughts, the humor of The Falls, the sensuality of The Pillow Book, the numbers game of Drowning by Numbers... all of these elements are falling into place within 8 1/2 Women. I wonder if Greenaway meant for this film to be a stopping point in a specific type of film. Following this film, Greenaway took a small break only to return with a large project involving 3 films, a tv series, and live performance installations. He followed that project up with his most recent film, Nightwatching. Nightwatching is meant as part one of a trilogy on painters. Having watched only the first 30 minutes of Nightwatching, I can see Greenaway has started a new period in his filmmaking.

8 1/2 Women is just as disturbing as many of Greenaway's film. The topic of the movie is grief and power. A man's wife passes away and, through dialogue with his son, realizes he may have missed out on a certain side of sexuality. After the father and son view Felinni's 8 1/2, the two decide to create a harem of sorts. They want 8 1/2 women to live with them and fulfill their sexual fantasies. There is a tone of misogamy to this act. While the father remains loveable and, in his heart, unable to really let himself go... the son appears to be the more hateful.

As in most Greenaway films, the battle of the sexes may be hard fought... but, women are always the winners. In the case of 8 1/2 Women there is no difference. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the representation of each woman. One woman represents religion, another innocence, another fertility, etc. It is interesting to see these women used as devices.

This is not the strongest film of Greenaway's career. I believe Belly of an Architect to be his weakest, but 8 1/2 Women comes close only because so much of the film feels recycled.

The score is beautiful. The acting delightful. And the dialogue between father and son is poetry.


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