The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Dir.

Peter Greenway

Fig.1: the movie poster

The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover (1989) is a drama unlike any other. The subject matter, and the visual style and music, should naturally clash, but in fact all elements work perfectly to create a dark and vulgar yet creative and artistic work of film. The film was almost given an X rating, as Roger Ebert explains, which ended up “creating a furor in Great Britain because of its political content.” (Ebert, 1999)

Fig.2: the dining room The film takes place almost entirely within ‘Le Hollandaise’, a French restaurant owned by Albert Spica, played by Michael Gambon. He is a “loud, large, reprehensible

criminal”(Ebert, 1999). His Wife, Georgina Spica played by Helen Mirren, is the victim of abuse from her husband. “Greenaway gives a nightmare tinge to these scenes by using a different color scheme for every locale”(Ebert, 1999). The main dining room is red, the bathroom is white, and the kitchen has a greenish tint. The characters costumes change as they enter each room, to match the colour scheme. For example, as Helen Mirren’s character enters the bathroom, her costume changes from a red outfit, to a white one. The transitions are achieved through the camera seemingly panning through the walls.

Fig.3: Kitchen Set “Greenaway also favors Jacobean revenge tragedy and 17th Century painting, and both of these interests figure prominently in the film’s composition and narrative” (Juliano, 2009). This is evident also due to the style of the film. The entire film feels like it is filmed in a theatre set, due to the lighting, the layouts of the rooms, the acting, and the camera panning through the sets as if each room is next the the other. The film seems to make it clear to the audience that this is not set in reality, but more of an abstract representation of reality.

Fig.4: Food There is a food theme throughout the film. This is evident almost entirely from visuals, we see the entire restaurant including the kitchen, and all the food and pantry rooms. And

most notably, The reoccurring scenes of Albert having dinner with his fellow gang members and friends. Here we see a seemingly normal display of the characters simply eating their dinners, though close up camera shots and enhanced sound effects make these scenes grotesque. All food shown within the film for the most part, is shown to be unhygienic and unpleasant to be looking at. Most notably would be the final scene in the film, in which we see cannibalism take place. A mixture of vulgar imagery mostly shown through food, and carefully chosen colour palettes and costumes (designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier) make a strange mixture of unpleasantness and beauty.

Sources Ebert, R 1999 REVIEWS/901010301/1023 Juliano, S 2009

Fig.2: s400/The+Cook%252C+The+Thief+3.jpg Fig.3: 0xpvSppaU-E/s400/cook.jpg Fig.4: TheCooktheThiefHisWifeHerLover.jpg

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