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Early Greenaway

The early work of one of the most original British film-makers

Main image of Early Greenaway

Peter Greenaway studied painting at Walthamstow, a small London art college, and shortly after was employed by the Central Office of Information as an editor and eventually as a filmmaker. As a result, in early Greenaway you see a merging of his occupations or primary activities - painting and editing - with his obsessions - nature or landscape, the watery English countryside and methods of organisation: maps, diagrams, grids, systems of classification.

In the late 1960s, at the height of the popularity of structuralism in experimental filmmaking, Greenaway purchased an inexpensive Bolex camera with a shot length of around 17 seconds and began, in a project of self-education, to make rather simple but very self-conscious films. This was a period when much attention was paid to organising film strategies around equations, and Greenaway, already fascinated by number counts, cataloguing and all sorts of methods of organising information and ideas in a non-narrative form, was perfectly poised to make his contribution to this movement.

Greenaway's earlier films are, as a result, essays and examinations of his many fascinations. And while in many ways these early films are somewhat naïve, the fundamental characteristics that have since been associated with Greenaway's filmmaking are already evident.

Laurel Warbrick-Keay

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Dear Phone (1976)Dear Phone (1976)

Anecdotes about various uses and abuses of the telephone

Thumbnail image of Falls, The (1980)Falls, The (1980)

Peter Greenaway's catalogue of survivors of an unknown disaster

Thumbnail image of H is for House (1976)H is for House (1976)

An imaginative exploration of the significance of the letter H

Thumbnail image of Intervals (1973)Intervals (1973)

Shots of Venice assembled according to various musical principles

Thumbnail image of Vertical Features Remake (1978)Vertical Features Remake (1978)

Peter Greenaway's mocking parody of rigid structuralist principles

Thumbnail image of Walk Through H, A (1978)Walk Through H, A (1978)

Peter Greenaway's journey through maps of an imaginary landscape

Thumbnail image of Water Wrackets (1978)Water Wrackets (1978)

A 'documentary' about an imaginary civilisation based around water

Thumbnail image of Windows (1974)Windows (1974)

Darkly witty allegory concerning death by defenestration

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Related People and Organisations

Thumbnail image of Greenaway, Peter (1942-)Greenaway, Peter (1942-)

Director, Writer, Editor