Topic: NIGHTWATCHING by P Greenaway

watching the film i became aware of why I like his films so much: they are a rare combination of intense storytelling and psychological acting, visual poetry and conceptual art. He is one of the few who manage to combine these in a convincing manner. By the way more so than lynch, to who's characters I always felt very distant, remote.
In this case however the story telling seems more convincing than the conceptual discourse. It is true that the film makes a famous painting come alive and sounding, but he does so by telling a detective story, presumably hid in the painting. Maybe so, but that does not make the painting more interesting to me. It is a bit like art education for elementary school: make kids interested in art by telling the stories behind it.
Besides that, the film tells the life and love-story(ies) of Rembrandt, which is very moving almost throughout. However the film falls in two parts, one before the finishing of the painting and before the death of Rembrandts wife, which is great, and a second one after, which seems strangely superfluous.
The film holds little for our work, I think. It is worth watching for the pleasure of it. There are however two things interesting: the first one you already pointed out, the jumping back and forth between stage or rather painting (two dimensional) and film or space. (Intro scene in the beginning which is repeated towards the end of the film) Darkness plays an important role in this, but not always. He also works al ot with stills and movements and back- and foreground, creating tabloids that become alive and vice versa. using very wide angles and creating multilayered spaces, like paintings in paintings in a space and so on.
the other thing is a scene were Rembrandt falls into his wife's tomb at her burial. It turns out to be filled with water. He then sits on the edge, splashing the water at people standing above him. the scene is visually quite impressive
and carries alot of implications. However Greenaway uses it mainly to continue the narrative of criminal accusations.
rembrandt-in-the-grave