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A Zed & Two Noughts (Peter Greenaway, 1985)

The film is made entirely in the zoo in Rotterdam (Diergaarde Blijdorp) that was designed by the architect Sybold van Ravesteyn and it was opened in December 1940. Sacha Vierny, the director of photography that worked also for Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961), together with Peter Greenaway, implements a manipulation of light according to a list of 26 different conditions: natural lights, artificial lights and contemporary ways of lighting (such as car headlamps). A Zed and Two Noughts is also important for the numerous pictorial references. At the beginning of the movie, the car accident with the swan in front of the entrance of the zoo aims to represent a contemporary version of the Dutch ‘dead swan’. The director wants to bring the audience in the mythical period of the Dutch painting of the 17th and 18th-centuries when the figure of the swan was represented in different ways: alive, threatened, in the pantry, as a still life, dead, or with Leda. The scene of car crash is the contribution made by Greenaway within the figurative evolution of the swan. 

Digital frame of the film.

Plan of the building ‘Riviera Hall’ in Diergaarde Blijdorp designed by Sybold van Ravesteyn (1937-1940).

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