The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

Whew, what a film. The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover is quite a shocker, brilliant in its visual presentation and orchestral soundtrack, yet sickening in the same way.



The film concerns the gangster (or thief as suggested in the title) of Albert Spica, a brute of a man whose wife (played by Helen Mirren) begins to delve into a sexual love affair. What presides is shocking brutality, humiliation, sex and even cannibalism, all treated in a very confrontational manner not for the faint hearted - I was pretty sickened by some of the scenes I witnessed. The film itself is dominated by Albert Spica, who speaks almost constantly throughout the whole film. I have to say, Michael Gambon plays a flawless performance in capturing a most brutal and detestable man in every level.



An small taste of Albert's brutality, lashing out with a fork only to afterwards sit and simply resume eating.


Despite this, the film does a wonderful job in immersing one into the world and atmosphere of the film with only a few set locations, with orchestral cues and slow yet deliberate panning of the camera. The use of colour is particularly captivating with the dominant red restaurant and eerie green of the kitchen, where the clothes worn by the characters are constantly changing colour for a subtle yet effective theatrical display.



The painting 'Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard' by Dutch painter Frans Hals found in the background of the restaurant, contributes to the sense of gluttonous food and wealth that Albert exhibits. In one way, there seem to stare towards the scene almost in disgust.



Overall, there is some brutal and sickening scenes to be had in this film, but if you can get over this fact, you will be treated to some great theatrical work with soaring orchestral tracks and great aesthetic set designs with the particular use of lighting and colour.

1 comments:

tutorphil said...

... about the perception essay; as I haven't been involved, I can't necessarily appease all your (and others) confusion. However, I do have some very basic advice for you;

Go back to the brief: below the essay question itself you will find the 'assessment criteria' - unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of an actual copy of the brief - otherwise I would copy/paste the exact requirements, but my point is simply this; use the 'assessment criteria' as cited in the brief to guide and formulate your response.

So, if memory serves, the first criteria asks you to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the principles of perception; therefore, to begin your essay, you should reflect your understanding of the key ideas as covered in the lecture series - Gestalt theory, semiotics etc - a general statement regarding how our relationship to the world and meanings has been discussed in theoretical terms.

The next criteria is all about APPLYING that understanding; so, what I therefore suggest is, out of the various theories/principles, you select one/some to develop further and apply them to something; if you were to select semiotics, before you could apply it, you would first have to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject itself - whose idea was it, where did it come from, and what does it 'do' - then, once you've defined Semiotics, apply it - my advice would be to apply it to something 'simple' first - because when you apply it to something simple, what is 'complex' about how our perceptions of it are formed is made very obvious; the example I've used is the traffic light - green = go/ red = stop. Of course, red and green don't equal anything - their significance is entirely cultural and created. Then, once you've applied it to something simple, you are in a position to move onto something more complex.

The way to succeed in this essay is for you to define the limits of your own enquiry - don't let the whole weight of perceptual theory lead your essay, make the essay lead perceptual theory.

The other assessment criteria is about 'academic style' in the writing of the essay itself, which is something we've all talked about before - that is, finding a formal 'voice' with which to express yourself and observing the Harvard Method for quotes and citations,

I know what the essay question says (or doesn't say!), but basically you are being asked to use your knowledge of perceptual theory to 'unlock' an existing image, object or sign. If you're doing that, you're doing okay.

Golden Rule - when in doubt, use the assessment criteria as your guide!

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