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A Zed and Two Noughts

Despite its visual pyrotechnics and an impressively woven texture of intellectual allusions, Peter Greenaway's feature fails to engage the audience's sympathies.

With:
Andrea Ferreol Brian Deacon Eric Deacon Frances Barber Joss Ackland Gerard Thoolen

Despite its visual pyrotechnics and an impressively woven texture of intellectual allusions, Peter Greenaway’s feature fails to engage the audience’s sympathies.

In the end, it remains the work of a highly talented British eccentric who hasn’t managed to thresh out his private fantasies and obscurantist intellectual preoccupations to connect with major concerns or touch the emotions.

The action centers on a zoo (its letters making up the zed and two noughts of the title). In this lurid arena Greenaway is intent on upturning the seamier, humiliating side of animal existence in captivity (including that of homo sapiens).

Meanwhile, lots of pseudo-philosophical conundrums are tossed at the audience like peanuts to hungry caged animals. Is a zebra a white horse with black stripes or a black one with white? etc. Needless to say, the resulting stilted dialog does not make the acting much of a treat.

A Zed and Two Noughts

UK - Netherlands

Production: Artificial Eye/BFI/Channel Four/Allarts/VPR. Director Peter Greenaway; Producer Kees Kasander, Peter Sainsbury; Screenplay Peter Greenaway; Camera Sacha Vierny; Editor John Wilson; Music Michael Nyman; Art Director Ben van Os

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1985. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Andrea Ferreol Brian Deacon Eric Deacon Frances Barber Joss Ackland Gerard Thoolen

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