Goltzius and the Pelican Company review perpetually mischievous

Peter Greenaway directs an overlong account of the titillating Old Testament illustrations by painter Hendrik Goltzius

Alan Parker once described Peter Greenaway‘s work as "a load of posturing poo-poo", while Ken Russell insisted that he was "more interested in shit than soul". Fittingly, this latest from Britain’s arthouse provocateur opens with F Murray Abraham‘s margrave of Alsace taking a very public dump, and continues with the now familiar blend of bared buttocks, cocks and breasts, variously adorned with ink, constantly accompanied by text ("words in books, words on the stage"). Our scene is set in 1590, as Dutch printer/painter Hendrik Goltzius (Ramsey Nasr, terrific) persuades the margrave to fund a printing press on which to render an "illustrated" Old Testament. In return, his company will present six dramatisations of sexual taboos (adultery, incest, prostitution etc) drawn from holy scripture, for the education/titillation of their patron. It’s typical Greenaway overly long, peacockingly erudite, eye-catchingly grotesque, perpetually mischievous, and gleefully up itself.

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