directed by Peter Greenaway
UK / Netherlands 1988


 Three related women, a mother, her daughter and her niece  (played by Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson and Joely Richardson), are all known by the name Cissie Colpitts. Also in common are their dissatisfaction with their husband's philandering ways. The solution ? - drown each of them and make it look like an accident. The reluctant local coroner, a curmudgeon called Madgett, is drawn in to help hide the murders. His eventual price? - sexual favors. The story is sequentially interspersed with the numbers one to one-hundred, which appear passively hidden though easily visible, throughout the entirety of the film.

Regarded as one of Greenaways finest, it showcases his unique brand of cinema with beautiful, teasing imagery while perfectly mirroring a literary riddle of murder, morality and sexual solidarity. The director's following, who enjoy his quirky characters, are in their nirvana with this offering. Many may find it tedious and often disjointed. Reactions often vary from strongly like to strongly dislike. Unfortunately for me, I am in the latter camp, but can plainly see how others can be attracted to this form of cinema 'madness'. Ripe with the crossword style appeal (in searching for the numbers), few can argue about the beauty cinematography of the countryside and landscapes. Perhaps Greenaway's most abundantly desirable facet in his films are that they are dissimilar to most everything else existing in movies today. Eclectic in the extreme.
  out of  

Gary W. Tooze

Theatrical Release: September 10th, 1988 - Toronto Film Festival

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DVD Review: FilmFour- Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution FilmFour - Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:53:36
Video 1.41:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.67 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) 
Subtitles None

Release Information:
Studio: Film Four International

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.41:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date:  2002

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 24


This DVD is not exceptionally sharp or well-done. The colors look like they may be quite beautiful during filming, however they are hazy and dull in this Australian DVD offering. It seems to look acceptable on a tube, but the flaws are really prevalent when projected. Audio is consistent. No subtitles and virtually no extras. Aspect ratio seems right in composition although sources indicate that the film was shot partially open matte (mostly exteriors) and hard matted at 1.66:1 (all interiors), so the 1:1.41 DVD is as close as we have seen so far for this film. NOTE: Overscan may kill the viewablity of a few of the numbers - be sure to zoom in!

 The other DVD offerings (Japan etc.) are even poorer (and censored I believe). Greenaway fans may not mind this lackluster presentation, but anyone looking for a strong, clean image may be disappointed with this release. I suspect, as other Greenaway films on DVD are of about the same quality that the prints are poor and in need of restoration. This may be the case, regardless we have a weak DVD from FilmFour. out of

Gary W. Tooze

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Gary Tooze