Monday, November 8, 2010

The Pillow Book

The artist, the painter, in Peter Greenaway creates a film like a beautiful skyscraper. The structure is strong. The material of the film is so completely thought through that there is little chance for the finished project to fail. Greenaway is a perfectionist. Clearly obsessed with every aspect of film. And, most likely, Greenaway is a frantic man. Each of Greenaway's films run wild with plot, image, and character. Nothing ever goes in a straight line or exists on a single level.

The Pillow Book is a film about obsession. The father's obsession with writing, the father's obsession with tradition, the publisher's obsession with the male body and literature, the daughter's obsession with body writing, the Englisman's obsession with language, and the daughter's obsession with revenge. The film is brimming over with a need to keep moving towards a goal, a purpose. A desire so difficult to meet.

I first saw this film about five years ago. At the time, I didn't think much of the film. I enjoyed the images. Found myself confused by the story. On my second viewing, I am not sure how I was so confused. Or, why I felt so removed from the film. In fact, this is a film for any person with an artistic desire. Those who want to create and the pain one feels when creating and not creating. This is a complex study of art.

In typical Greenaway fashion, the film uses nudity in a naturalistic fashion. The bodies are nude. But, never overly sexualized. Greenaway uses the nude body to represent the greatest piece of imperfect art. He refuses to allow the body to be hidden. For Greenaway, it is all or nothing. He will never hold back from giving his entire vision.

Since I have started my travels through the films of Greenaway, I have grown to respect, admire, and love his art in a way I never thought quite possible. This isn't art for the sake of art. This isn't shallow or empty film. The Pillow Book is a great piece of the Greenaway filmography.


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