Goltzius and the Pelican Company

Goltzius and the Pelican Company

Peter Greenaway (2012)

18 Certificate


Our Score
This second film of Peter Greenaway's planned "Dutch Masters trilogy" - the first was 2007's Rembrandt-themed Nightwatching, the third will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch - plays disappointingly like a greatest hits album. All the director's familiar trademarks are present and correct: the extensive nudity, richly detailed compositions, sweeping tracking shots and minimalist score. But the overall effect is much less impressive than it was in the former enfant terrible's 80s heyday. The story has artist Hendrick Goltzius (an entertaining turn from former Dutch poet laureate Ramsey Nasr, who brings to mind Eddie Izzard in a ruff) enacting six sexual taboos for the Margrave of Alsace (F Murray Abraham) in return for a new printing press. But the intrigue on the stage spills over into the court with chaotic and bloody results. Greenaway's technique is as impressive as ever, but the novelty and sense of shock that accompanied his early work (which could also be fiercely satirical, as in the case of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) has long dissipated, while Marco Robino's score is so reminiscent of the director's former collaborator Michael Nyman that you miss him all the more.


Renowned 16th-century Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius hopes to acquire a printing press, so he can realise his dream of publishing an illustrated old testament. He tries to win the favour of an aristocrat by arranging for a theatre company to stage erotic depictions of Bible stories, a plan that has unforeseen consequences throughout the court. Historical drama, starring Ramsey Nasr and F Murray Abraham.

Cast & Crew

The Margrave F Murray Abraham
Hendrick Goltzius Ramsey Nasr
Adaela Kate Moran
Thomas Boethius Giulio Berruti (2)
Susannah Anne Louise Hassing
Eduard Flavio Parenti
Pippo Delbono Samuel van Gouda
Lars Eidinger Amos Quadfrey
Director Peter Greenaway
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Other Information

Language: English, Dutch, French +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Axiom Films / BFI FilmsGuidance: Violence, swearing, nudity.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 11 Jul 2014