Movie Analysis: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Essay by sarabjeetkaur87University, Master's August 2013

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MOVIE: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

Directed by: Peter Greenaway

Peter Greenaway, the British film director, is known for his works which had the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Scenic composition, playful use of illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, sexual pleasure and painful death are the common traits in his films.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is said to be his most successful and controversial film. Generally the title of the movie gives clue, suggestion for interpretations, offering some information about the characters or the ground of the plot. In this movie, the title not only highlights the main characters but also suggests the themes that make up the film's narrative. The definite articles preceding the nouns have a generic value.

The insertion in this enumeration of possessive articles has a symbolic value and transposes us into the very heart of the action which for us has not even begun. Even the sequence hints us of the hierarchy in terms of power. The only snag is the first element which, upon closer inspection has no connection with the classic trio that follows.

The Cook…'s narrative follows the pattern of a good Revenge Tragedy, usually full of typical scenes of carnage and mutilation, of verbal, moral and physical violence, of passion pushed to the extremes serving an inexhaustible hunger for revenge. The narration was offered for each day with the exotic menu visual.

At moments of major events the frame is full to bursting, the sounds and the music become invasive and the worst obscenities are introduced into a tragic atmosphere. The camera movement was intelligently put on a horizontal path.