The Tulse Luper Suitcases: Part One The Moab Story

The Tulse Luper Suitcases: Part One The Moab Story


Reviewed by: David Stanners

If aggrandisement was a cinematic virtue, Peter Greenaway's The Tulse Luper Suitcases would scoop the Palme D'Or. Thankfully, it isn't. Its raison d'etre, however, is a good question, one that most reasonable minded people would find excruciating to define, if they actually cared.

The first of four epics, The Moab Story is a self-important, prosaic and ill-defined artistic tableau, treading the life of Luper - an English writer-come-natural-historian-come-traveller, who fills his suitcases with artefacts and goods from his journeys. The point of this is beyond comprehension.

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Starting his quest in Moab - a Mormon area in Utah - he incurs the wrath of a local family, who strip him naked and paste his genitals with honey for the bees and insects to revel in. Accused of hunting down uranium, the family besiege him and whatever happens after that is anyone's guess. He takes off for Belgium, infiltrates the Nazi party, as a newspaper columnist, and picks up more junk for his suitcases.

Greenaway is off on a tangent-and-a-half here. Constantly split-screening, splicing images, fast framing, cornering off and generally playing jiggery pokery with the camera, it looks like a technical experiment by a film school student, no expenses spared!

Sadly this does nothing for the hodgepodge narrative and flaccid structure. Unlike abstract art, where associations are ultimately left to the viewer's discretion, Greenaway pompously lays down his own aesthetic vision, regardless of the audience's needs and desires.

There is no coherent development of character. With the exception of Luper, the rest of the cast are contrived constructs of caricatures, with no sustainable interest.

Assuming everything and saying nothing is not the way to make a two-hour film, four times over. Greenaway is obviously wrapped so tightly in his own head, that he's forgotten how to tell a story.

The product is as pretentious as the title suggests.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2003
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A meandering historical epic life story of a traveller/natural historian/writer.
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Director: Peter Greenaway

Writer: Peter Greenaway

Starring: JJ Field, Valentina Cervi, Drew Mulligan, Isabella Rossellini, Deborah Harry, Yorick van Wageningen, Kevin Tighe, Scot Williams, Tom Bower, Steven Mackintosh

Year: 2003

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain, UK, Italy and Hungary


EIFF 2003

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