Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Greenaway, Peter

(1942-    ) UK movie director and screenwriter, whose cold eye can make his movies almost impossible to watch yet who works at the heart of fantasy. After various respected shorts he came to international attention with The Draughtsman's Contract (1982 tvm), which one can regard as either fantasy or a mimicry of fantasy. A Zed and Two Noughts (1985) falls into roughly the same category: husbands whose wives die in a car crash discover new relationships as they jostle over the survivor of the crash, an amputee. The Belly of an Architect (1987) is a sort of psychofantasy, and the same could be said of Drowning by Numbers (1988), about a coroner obsessed with three generations of women who drown their husbands, and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), which depicts an almost unbearably brutal gangster (played unforgettably by Michael Gambon) and the murder of the stranger his wife picks up as a lover, were it not for the fact that PG deliberately employs dissociational techniques to remind us all the while that this is fantasy, rather than reality. A TV Dante: Cantos I-VIII (1989 tvm) showed PG, in this adaptation of Dante, experimenting with some boldness with video techniques; this was carried to an extreme in Prospero's Books (1991), probably PG's most successful yet most "difficult" movie to date, reinterpreting the Godgame played by Prospero in William Shakespeare's The Tempest (performed circa 1611; 1623). [JG]

Peter Greenaway


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.