England/Netherlands, 2008, 90 minutes
Sun, Apr 26 / 6:30 / PFA / REMB26P
Mon, Apr 27 / 9:30 / Kabuki / REMB27K
Tue, Apr 28 / 9:15 / Kabuki / REMB28K
“Just because you have eyes does not mean you can see,” challenges the great director-contrarian Peter Greenaway in his new cine-essay, which reveals the mysteries hidden in plain sight in one of the most famous paintings of all time, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Where most see only a great work of art, Greenaway dissects the Dutch masterpiece to uncover an indictment, a conspiracy and a murder mystery sweeping across the ruling elites of Amsterdam’s Golden Age. Hosting the proceedings like a well-mannered 21st-century judge, Greenaway “investigates” each of the painting’s 34 characters, their poses and costumes, as well as the picture’s setting and lighting, to discover clues to Rembrandt’s fascinating take on, and indictment of, the power struggles of 17th-century Amsterdam. In the process, Greenaway moves far beyond narrative and documentary filmmaking (further beyond his already out-there early works like Drowning by Numbers or The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) to level his own j’accuse on contemporary visual illiteracy. With actors (including Martin Freeman of British TV’s The Office) restaging certain scenes and Greenaway’s clever intellectual side-notes and diversions (the development of candle-making in relationship to painting aesthetics, for instance), Rembrandt’s J’Accuse will change how you view art, and the world.
Presented in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. West Coast Premiere.