Peter Greenaway

From Academic Kids

Peter Greenaway
Peter Greenaway

Peter Greenaway (b. April 5, 1942) is a British filmmaker trained as a painter and famous for his movies and exhibitions.



Greenaway was born in Newport in Wales (his mother is Welsh), but grew up in England. The family left Wales when Greenaway was three years old and moved to Essex, England. At an early age he decided he wanted to be a painter. He developed an interest in European cinema, focusing on the films of Antonioni, Bergman, Godard, Pasolini and Resnais.

In 1962 he started studying at the Walthamstow College of Art, where amongst his fellow students was musician Ian Dury (who Greenaway would later cast in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover). Greenaway would spend the next three years there, and at the time of arriving there he made his first film, Death of Sentiment about church yard furniture, crosses, flying angels, typography on grave stones, and was filmed in four large London cemeteries. In 1965 he joined the Central Office of Information (COI), where he remained for the next fifteen years as a film editor and then a director. In 1966 he made a film called Train, composed of footage of the last steam train arriving at Waterloo station (directly behind the COI), structured into an abstract Man Ray ballet mcanique, all cut to a musique concrete track. He also made a film called Tree in 1966, the tree in question was surrounded by concrete outside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London. The 1970s would see Greenaway getting much more serious with his filmmaking. In 1978 he made Vertical Features Remake and A Walk Through H. The former is an examination of arithmetical structure and the latter a journey through various maps.

A hallmark of many of Greenaway's films is the heavy influence of Renaissance and, in particular Flemish, painting in his scene composition and lighting, with its concomitant contrasts of costume and naturalized nudity, nature and achitecture, funiture and person, sexual pleasure and painful death.

Greenaway has often worked with composer Michael Nyman, who is known for his sound tracks for films such as the Draughtsman's Contract, The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, Prospero's Books.

In 1980 Greenaway delivered The Falls – a mammoth, fantastical, absurdist encyclopedia of flight-associated material all relating to 92 victims of the Violent Unknown Event (VUE). The 1980s would see some of Greenaway's best known films, The Draughtsman's Contract in 1982, A Zed & Two Noughts in 1985, The Belly of an Architect in 1987, Drowning by Numbers in 1988, and his most successful (in the mainstream) film in 1989, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. He collaborated with the artist Tom Phillips (also in 1989) on a television mini-series called A TV Dante, dramatizing the first few cantos of Dante's Inferno. The 1990s brought the visually spectacular Prospero's Books in 1991, the controversial The Baby of Mcon in 1993, The Pillow Book in 1996, and 8 Women in 1999.

Greenaway is working on an ambitious film project, The Tulse Luper Suitcases, a multimedia extravaganza featuring innovative film techniques.

Greenaway also teaches cinema studies at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducts Intensive Summer Seminars. In 2002 he received an honorary doctorate from the Media and Communications department.

He has also contributed to Visions of Europe, a collection of short films from different directors around the European Union. His entry for Britain is called The European Showerbath. In early 2005 it was announced that he would be making a film about the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn to be released in 2006. The film is entitled as Nightwatching.



  • Act of God (1980) imdb (
  • Death in the Seine (French TV, 1988) imdb (
  • A TV Dante (mini-series, 1989) imdb (
  • M Is for Man, Music, Mozart (1991) imdb (
  • A Walk Through Prospero's Library (1992) imdb (
  • Darwin (French TV, 1993) imdb (

External links

de:Peter Greenaway es:Peter Greenaway fr:Peter Greenaway he:פיטר גרינווי ja:ピーター・グリーナウェイ nl:Peter Greenaway pl:Peter Greenaway sv:Peter Greenaway ru:Гринуэй, Питер


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