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Nightwatching (Two Disc Special Edition) [Import]

Martin Freeman , Emily Holmes , Peter Greenaway    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.87 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Nightwatching (Two Disc Special Edition) [Import] + The Draughtsman's Contract (Widescreen) + Zed & Two Noughts (Widescreen)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miles and miles of painted darkness July 5 2009
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
One of the most famous paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is "The Night Watch," a dark-hued painting filled with richly, colourfully dressed soldiers.

Well, no matter how brilliant they are, most paintings don't end up inspiring movies -- but Peter Greenaway does a pretty brilliant job with "Nightwatching," a semi-fictionalized version of how Rembrandt came to paint it. The "hidden coded message" subplot is a bit awkward, but Greenaway's brilliance shines in how exquisite the movie is -- he wraps the movie in lush, light-soaked beauty, and Rembrandt becomes a very real person.

When his smart, independent wife Saskia (Eva Birthistle) gets pregnant, Rembrandt (Martin Freeman) is called upon to paint an Amsterdam Civil Guard -- he doesn't want to, but reluctantly agrees under the condition that he gets nine months ("(It takes that long to make a baby; it will certainly take that long to make a painting") and chooses the setup. Meanwhile, Saskia gives birth to a healthy baby but becomes ill herself (which frustrates her lusty husband).

In fact, Saskia becomes more sickly as the painting goes on -- and when she dies, Rembrandt's closeness to Titus' nursemaid Geertje (Jodhi May) and maidservant Hendrickje (Emily Holmes) becomes quite different. And his straightforward commission is complicated by the sudden death of a young officer, which reveals a seedy clot of sex, blackmail and corruption. He can't reveal these things in the open, but he can weave them into "The Night Watch."

Rich draperies, misty forests, torch-waving brigades in a darkened bedroom, high windows filled with pale sunlight, vast empty rooms, smoky kitchens, and the pale angelic face of a dead young woman -- "Nightwatching" is a bit like seeing a painting in motion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rembrandt's dark masterpiece... April 27 2014
By Edmonson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Nightwatching" (2007) is directed by Peter Greenaway (Prosperos' Books, A Zed and Two Noughts). The movie looks at the events that might have been behind the making of the large painting by Rembrandt called "The Night Watch". Peter Greenaway takes the view that Rembrandt was depicting a cast of people, some who were complicit in a murder. The movie takes its structure from the notion of a stage, as seen in the painting, with most sequences in the movie mimicing a stage play, with the actors performing in a theatrical rather than in a naturalistic manner. In this whodunnit the bits and pieces come together aligning the making of this painting with Rembrandt's eventual downfall and disgrace in society. The movie embraces the chiaroscuro effect of light and dark that Rembrandt used in his depictions of people creating a very dramatically lit environment from which the actors are immersed. An intriguing second feature accompanies this set on the second disc, called "J'Accuse", which is a 100 minute discourse by Peter Greenaway explaining in his view the meaning behind the painting. One will likely find these films fascinating if one is interested in Rembrandt's life, and in this pivotal painting's importance in art history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway's masterpiece? Aug. 6 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you liked 'The Draughtsmen's Contract', you may want to check this out. An intriguing premise about the motive behind the Nightwatch painting is spooled out like a murder mystery, and debates the role of the artist in society. Peter Greenaway's decision to stage the movie on a spare set, as opposed to the sumptuous locations we've come to expect, may prove disappointing to some, but his sharp eye for period detail and emulating famous tableaux from paintings won't disappoint. The Bonus disc contains a wealth of backup material and interviews -they could almost have been released on their own merit.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miles and miles of painted darkness July 5 2009
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
One of the most famous paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is "The Night Watch," a dark-hued painting filled with richly, colourfully dressed soldiers.

Well, no matter how brilliant they are, most paintings don't end up inspiring movies -- but Peter Greenaway does a pretty brilliant job with "Nightwatching," a semi-fictionalized version of how Rembrandt came to paint it. The "hidden coded message" subplot is a bit awkward, but Greenaway's brilliance shines in how exquisite the movie is -- he wraps the movie in lush, light-soaked beauty, and Rembrandt becomes a very real person.

When his smart, independent wife Saskia (Eva Birthistle) gets pregnant, Rembrandt (Martin Freeman) is called upon to paint an Amsterdam Civil Guard -- he doesn't want to, but reluctantly agrees under the condition that he gets nine months ("(It takes that long to make a baby; it will certainly take that long to make a painting") and chooses the setup. Meanwhile, Saskia gives birth to a healthy baby but becomes ill herself (which frustrates her lusty husband).

In fact, Saskia becomes more sickly as the painting goes on -- and when she dies, Rembrandt's closeness to Titus' nursemaid Geertje (Jodhi May) and maidservant Hendrickje (Emily Holmes) becomes quite different. And his straightforward commission is complicated by the sudden death of a young officer, which reveals a seedy clot of sex, blackmail and corruption. He can't reveal these things in the open, but he can weave them into "The Night Watch."

Rich draperies, misty forests, torch-waving brigades in a darkened bedroom, high windows filled with pale sunlight, vast empty rooms, smoky kitchens, and the pale angelic face of a dead young woman -- "Nightwatching" is a bit like seeing a painting in motion. And Peter Greenaway gives the movie a very unique flavor -- most of the interior scenes look like they were filmed on theatrical stage sets, with limited camera angles and soft glowing light falling from above. It works gloriously.

In fact, the only directorial aspect that falls flat is when Rembrandt breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience about how he met and married Saskia. Come on, no talking to the camera!

Not that this movie is all ethereal beauty -- there's lots of bawdy, earthy humor, sensuality (Geertje posing nude for her lover) and a wicked sense of humour, such as Rembrandt lampooning various stuffy military portraits. But the tone becomes darker as the plot winds on, and we start to see what is up with the ethereal, broken teenage girl who wanders onto rooftops to talk to Rembrandt. Throughout it all, there's the feeling that Greenaway has turned dusty history into vibrant flesh-and-blood realism.

Freeman is absolutely amazing as Rembrandt -- selfish, passionate, loving, rebellious, foul-mouthed, volatile and vibrant, a man who lives every moment to the full. You might not actually like to know the guy, but Freeman does make him seem entirely real. And you end up liking him despite his weird mood swings -- as Saskia lies dying, he weeps pitifully into her lap; after she dies, he's seen tersely telling her "Bloody get up!" because he can't cope without her.

And Birthistle, May and Holmes make a solid trio of women of women who shared Rembrandt's bed and life. The first two are especially great: Birthistle particularly is smart, gutsy and Rembrandt's equal in every way, while May serves as a capable, down-to-earth seductress who winds her way into Rembrandt's affections after Saskia's death. And Natalie Press is eerily haunting as the tragic servant girl Marieke.

"Nightwatching" is literally pretty as a picture, but it also has a solid plot with plenty of period earthiness to keep it grounded. Peter Greenaway really outdid himself with this one.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece....Greenaway's best work since Prospero's Books... Sept. 24 2009
By Grigory's Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I adored this movie. I've always been a big Peter Greenaway fan (and I've actually met him as well), but he hasn't been heard of lately, and his Tulse Luper trilogy was hardly released at all. The few clips of that series were quite stodgy and boring. So when Nightwatching came out on DVD, I had reasonably decent expectations. It surprassed them. Nightwatching is a masterpiece, one of Greenaway's best films, and his best film since Prospero's Books.

There is so much to admire in this film. After his disappointing 8 1/2 Women (his worst film), seeing the great Greenaway style again in top form is heartwarming. The cinemtography is really striking. It's some of the best I've seen in Greenaway's work in a long time. The sets are wonderful, the dialogue is witty and hysterical at times, and there's a lot of genuine emotions throughout the film. The intrigue about the painting and the aftermath when it's finished is absolutely fascinating. There is swearing in this film, and while Rembrandt didn't swear like this in his day, the foul language doesn't seem out of place in this setting. The film is told often in a very stylized style, so it's not a completely straightforward biopic, which I find refreshing. It reminds me a little of Derek Jarman's "biographical" films (like Wittgenstein), which tried to get inside the head of the subject more than telling a straightfoward story of their lives.

The most surprising thing about this film is the absolutely wonderful performance by Martin Freeman as Rembrandt. Freeman is a good actor, but he's best known as Tim from the original The Office series, and I was a little weary of seeing him in a real dramatic role. My fears were groundless, as he pulls this role off amazingly. You totally believe he's Rembrandt. The other performances are really good as well, and the film is a must for Greenaway fans, but other people should watch it as well. Nighwatching is one of Peter's best works, a welcome return for a filmmaker that many have forgotten about (but shouldn't have).
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of "Rembrandt's J'accuse" (Disc 2): Captivating Art History and Conspiracy Theory. Jan. 6 2010
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Rembrandt's J'accuse" is a companion piece to Peter Greenaway's "Nightwatching" (2007), a narrative film that dramatizes Greenaway's theory about Rembrandt van Rijn's creation in 1642 of his (currently) most famous painting, "The Night Watch". "Rembrandt's J'accuse" also presents Greenaway's theories about "The Night Watch", but this time the filmmaker does so in person, narrating an investigation into 34 different elements of the painting to make the case that Rembrandt's group portrait of the 13th Company of the Amsterdam Militia is an indictment of guilty parties in a murder conspiracy against Capt. Piers Hasselburg, who died from an "accidental" gunshot through the eye.

Greenaway speaks to us from a small window near the center of the screen, while a parade of paintings, dramatic re-enactments (borrowed from "Nightwatching"), and other visuals parade across the screen. He believes (or so he says) that Rembrandt acted as investigator, detective, and prosecutor in the death of Piers Hasselburg and painted his accusations for all the world to see. Now Greenaway acts as detective and prosecutor, even questioning witnesses from his box center screen, attempting to unearth the clues that Rembrandt supposedly planted in "The Night Watch", an act that Greenaway posits invited his persecution from the painting's angry commissioners, leading to the artist's decline from popularity and eventual destitution.

Sounds pretty far-fetched, especially considering that no one has ever put forth this conspiratorial hypothesis before. But it does invite a close reading of the images in "The Night Watch", a painting that radically departed from traditional Dutch group military portraits by depicting its 16 officers, 16 militiamen, 2 women and one dog in dynamic poses, often with faces partly obscured, something the men who commissioned the painting did not appreciate. But is there more to it? Greenaway picks apart 34 different aspects of the painting to make a case that Rembrandt is accusing the two most prominently featured men, Capt. Frans Banning Cocq and Lt. Willem van Roytenburgh, of conspiracy to murder, among other things.

The motive for murder is muddy, and many of Greenaway's clues seem specious, but I like the film a lot. The artist obviously painted everything on the canvas intentionally, even if some of it is just there to take up space or create balance. Nothing in a painting is accidental, so speculating on the purpose of every element is legitimate, even if it is sometimes imaginative. In fact, I agree that Banning Cocq and van Roytenburgh are portrayed in an unflattering light, though I doubt that a murder plot had anything to do with it. Personal animosity seems more likely. Peter Greenaway is arrogant, opinionated, and his films can be pretentious. But he's also sharp, knowledgable, and talented, and those qualities trump his odd theories in "Rembrandt's J'accuse".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Either you love Greenaway, I suspect, or you hate him Dec 5 2012
By Merri-Todd Webster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you love Greenaway's work, you will love this film. Martin Freeman is earthy, profane, and frequently naked as Rembrandt van Rijn, who is maneuvered by his wife-cum-business-manager into taking a commission he doesn't want, the painting of a formal portrait of the town guard. Rembrandt's unwanted commission turns into an expose of the seamy, dirty underbelly of respectable Amsterdam society, and as a result he loses his early fame and, coincidentally, his wife.

Freeman is brilliant as Rembrandt, and the film explores his relationships with several women: His managing wife, Saskia; his son's nursemaid, Geertje, who becomes his mistress after Saskia's death; his maid Hendrickje, with whom he has a true romance; and the mysterious girl who lives in the orphanage next door and appears on his roof from time to time. Her broken, disjointed stories of orphanage life lead to Rembrandt's attempt to expose the true nature of those honorable men of the town guard. Greenaway, as usual, lays on nudity, profanity, sex, violence, and theatrical staging, with lighting and color tones reminiscent of the painter's work. It's an unusual film but well worth a try.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rembrandt's dark masterpiece.... June 14 2012
By Edmonson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Nightwatching" (2007) is directed by Peter Greenaway (Prosperos' Books, A Zed and Two Noughts). The movie looks at the events that might have been behind the making of the large painting by Rembrandt called "The Night Watch". Peter Greenaway takes the view that Rembrandt was depicting a cast of people, some who were complicit in a murder. The movie takes its structure from the notion of a stage, as seen in the painting, with most sequences in the movie mimicing a stage play, with the actors performing in a theatrical rather than in a naturalistic manner. In this whodunnit the bits and pieces come together aligning the making of this painting with Rembrandt's eventual downfall and disgrace in society. The movie embraces the chiaroscuro effect of light and dark that Rembrandt used in his depictions of people creating a very dramatically lit environment from which the actors are immersed. An intriguing second feature accompanies this set on the second disc, called "J'Accuse", which is a 100 minute discourse by Peter Greenaway explaining in his view the meaning behind the painting. One will likely find these films fascinating if one is interested in Rembrandt's life, and in this pivotal painting's importance in art history.
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