Peter Greenaway - Vertical Features Remake (1978)


Vertical Features Remake is a playful parody of avant-garde theorising in which academics argue about the life and work of Tulse Luper, Greenaway's best known fictional character. In their efforts to reconstruct one of Luper's early projects, the publically-funded Institute of Reclamation and Restoration (IRR) end up with four versions of the film.

"Vertical Features Remake is a partly autobiographical absurdist fantasy that could have been conceived by Lewis Carroll. It presents the world of the IRR, the powerful Institute of Reclamation and Restoration, which has just discovered some sketchy surviving records of a ‘film project undertaken by Tulse Luper when he was working officially, but it seems reluctantly, on a State landscape Programme.' That programme was code-named Session, and its ominous aim was ‘the creation of a dynamic landscape'. Vertical Features was a document made in protest by Tulse Luper, and Vertical Features Remake consists of the IRR's four attempts to reconstruct that film.

In fact the film is an attack on the whole British film-culture, with the IRR on one side and pedantic academia on the other. Both sides are seen as unconscious partners in a sinister threatening Session 3, laying waste the cinematic landscape. This never becomes a crude allegory or a simple protest, though; the short films-within-the-film are remarkable on their own terms and the musical collaboration with Michael Nyman makes for a harsh lyricism".

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