Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Tulse Luper Suitcases Part 3: From Sark to Finish (2004): Writers are corrupt

The Tulse Luper Suitcases Part 3: From Sark to Finish (2004)
dir: Peter Greenaway

In the previous 2 movies, Greenaway has taken the time to explore each stop of Tulse Luper's episodic life. He would spend 40 minutes on each station, and linger on each stage to explore the themes each episode reveals. But, for a reason I haven't entirely fathomed yet, Greenaway turns up the pacing in Part 3, rushing through the final 10 episodes in one 2 hour blast. Some of these episodes seem to be 2 minutes in length, while he spends an extraordinary amount of time both on Sark, and near a border between the East and West that developed in Europe.

After Tulse Luper's escape from Northern France, he finds himself on a coast on the island of Sark, which is just outside of Normandy. On Sark, he develops himself as a writer, writing stories on the cliffs of the beach in which he is now trapped. There he is visited by three sisters, each of which lust after him, and then decide that none can have him.

Sark itself, is an island that belongs to Guernsey, a British dependency off the coast of France, which also has its own parliament. This is an island that is 2.1 sqmi in area, and also has a population of 600.  This island exists. And, from 1940-1945, it was occupied by the Germans during World War II. But, unlike other significant locations, Greenaway doesn't even explain what Sark is.

Greenaway's focus on storytelling, and the three sisters, explores the difference between Parts 1 and 2, and Part 3. Part 3 begins to explore the sick rotting interior of the writer. Its an attempt to focus on both propaganda and the dangers of fiction. The rivers of Europe were beginning to fill with corpses, as World War II was coming to a close. The Nazis, believing they were doing the right thing, were killing the corrupt (Jews, homosexuals, dissidents, etc) in 3s. They would tie them up, and kill two of them, then throw them into a river to let the third drown. At least, in Greenaway's world.

Finally, Tulse ended up at a border between the west and the east, as a prisoner (as usual). There, he was forced to write 1001 stories for the guard's wife, whom he was also schtupping in order to give her a child. Eventually, many of the still surviving characters end up at this gate, in an attempt to get him across. And, in the end, he makes it.

Ultimately, in the final episode, we discover this whole 3 movie epic is actually an in-movie fiction. Tulse Luper actually dies in Episode 1, and the other episodes have been a fictional character created by that friend mentioned in the beginning, Martino Knockavelli. Sure, Martino would pop up periodically to involve himself, but the whole movie is a fiction within a fiction.

Greenaway, by exposing this whole history, and pseudo-documentary, to be a complete meta-fiction, is engaging in a conversation about the corruption of documentaries, as well as the corruption of the screen, and the corruption of writers in general. He focused much of this part on Luper's writing, including his 1001 fictions, and his cliff writing, but Luper didn't exist, and those stories were actually the fiction of Knockavelli. As such, the documentaries are the works of the victors, and the ruling class.

Part 3 completely rewrites the understanding of Parts 1 and 2, which had been hinted at by the out-of-time Moutessiers in Part 2. And the unverifiable Mormons of Part 1. Greenaway is having a lark, and playing a game, which is in line with the cinema he engages in. He exposes trappings, boredom and also tries to subvert our expectations at every turn. After a 6 hour investment, we don't expect that our whole story has been a lie by Greenaway.

How does the audience deal with this information? What are we supposed to do with this/ Is it all a complete lark, as it seemed to be in The Holy Mountain? Is Greenaway making a gigantic F for Fake that kind of fails because of its sheer scope before you get to the punchline? Was this perfected in his Rembrandt's J'Accuse? The main takeaway I got from this whole windup is don't believe anything. Don't believe what's been constructed. Don't believe the fictions. Don't believe the victor-written histories. Don't believe the loser-written histories. Everything is false. The very act of writing is a corrupting act.

Does that make this watchable? Worth it? Is it a lesson we need repeated? Is that even the lesson? Greenaway's movies cause us to ask so many questions, it is totally fascinating for me to watch, but is probably an exercise in frustration to the usual audience, who probably could use the lesson most.

No comments:

Post a Comment