CIFF 2013: Goltzius and the Pelican Company

The Calgary Eyeopener's Mario Trono reviews

Engraver brings Old Testament stories to life in erotic light in Peter Greenway film

The film centres on Hendrik Goltzius, an engraver of erotic prints, who has his company members perform prints — and live renditions some Old Testament’s biblical stories — in exchange for a printing press. (Goltzius and The Pelican Company/YouTube)

If you’ve never had the pleasure, you simply must experience the arresting visual style of a Peter Greenaway film at some point in your life. 

If a Renaissance painter could be brought to life and compelled to make a film, a movie like Goltzius and the Pelican Company could be the result.

Imagine the figures in Renaissance paintings come to life and then get their freak on.- Mario Trono

That said, if a Renaissance playwright were also resurrected, and conscripted into screenwriting duties, you might get a film like this, too. So while the visuals of this film should blow everyone away, the storytelling style may be an acquired taste.


Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

Sat., Sept. 28 at 2 p.m.

Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market 

It’s a wordy, intellectual and dense tale that we’re told, all about Hendrik Goltzius, a Dutch man who made his name in the 16th century as an engraver of erotic prints. He promises such visual delights as the saucy adventures of Adam and Eve to the Margrave of Alsace in exchange for money to buy a printing press. To sweeten the deal, Goltzius offers to have his company members perform live renditions of the tales.

Film Buzz

This film is the second work in a trilogy. The third is about Hieronymus Bosch and is set to be released in 2016 on the 500th anniversary of Bosch’s death.

Imagine the figures in Renaissance paintings come to life and then get their freak on. But all in the service of making the point that all new visual technologies that humans develop get aimed immediately at what the heart desires.

See it or not?

All self-proclaimed film buffs need to experience a Greenaway film, so if he’s on your cinematic bucket list, get out to this one. Casual filmgoers should be adventurous and see it too, but maybe only if you enjoyed studying the Renaissance in school.


Mario Trono

Calgary Eyeopener movie reviewer

Mario Trono, a confessed visual culture addict, is a film and art reviewer obsessed with finding interesting things to look at and tell people about. He daylights as a film professor at Mount Royal University. You can follow him on Twitter at @MarioTrono and hear his DVD reviews Friday at 6:50 a.m. MT on the Calgary Eyeopener.


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