The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
dir. Peter Greenaway, UK, 1989, 35mm, 124 min.
Greenaway’s lavish 1989 film was chosen by
artists Alex da Corte and Jayson Musson to be screened in conjunction with
their exhibition Easternsports, on view this September 19 – December 28, 2014
at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.
A Jacobean revenge allegory for Thatcherite Britain, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’s mise en abyme conceit includes long, choreographed takes by legendary cinematographer Sacha Vierny set to Michael Nyman’s pulsing score. Actors Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, and other Royal Shakespeare Company alumni are costumed in elaborate designs by couturier Jean Paul Gaultier, whose sculptural clothing changes colors as characters move from room to room on set. Violent, scatological, and sexual, the film’s distributor, Miramax, self-selected NR for its full, uncut US theatrical release— presented here on film—though poorly edited R-rated VHS copies were standard in the US rental market for many years. With an introduction by Da Corte, Musson and ICA curator Kate Kraczon.