A Zed and Two Noughts / The Falls: Two Films by Peter Greenaway Blu-ray Review

Watching and doing my review for the 1982 film The Draughtman’s Contract, I was instantly struck by filmmaker Peter Greenaway’s edgy and eccentric approach to storytelling. His attention to detail, characterizations, eroticism, black comedy, and utter weirdness, is what really appeals to me. In Kino’s new two films by Peter Greenaway set, I discovered and kind of latched onto two even weirder, but no less fascinating and unique works by him.

A Zed and Two Noughts (1985, on disc 1) is an unsettling and idiosyncratic tale of death and decay, where two twin zoologists/widowers (Eric and Brian Deacon) whose wives both die in a tragic auto accident caused by a swan (yes, it can happen) in front of the zoo they work for. The survivor Alba (Andrea Ferreol) loses her leg in the process. Afterwards, while coming to terms with grief, they become obsessed with evolution and rotting corpses (as well as have a sexual relationship with Alba), and even create time-lapse films of rotting creatures. When a mad surgeon plans to use Alba in his own twisted experiments, things get way too out of hand and the brothers’ obsessions may take them to the point of no return.

The Falls (1980, on disc 2) is an almost three and a half hour, deliciously absurd mockumentary that details the case histories of 92 people who have been bizarrely affected by a mysterious affliction called the VUE (Violent Unknown Event), which has caused each of them to be develop obsessions with birds and flight. A documentary filmmaker tries to uncover the origins of the event, as all of the survivors’ last names begin with the word “Fall.”

It’s safe to say that with these two films and others, Greenaway has definitely created his own colorfully baroque niche, one that can be considered too abstract and out-there for many film lovers but is definitely and strikingly authentic. If you want an introduction to his style and particular type of cinema, then this two-disc set is a collectible starting point that you will want to add to your collection.

For A Zed and Two Noughts, special features include commentary and intro by Greenaway; six “decay” sequences; two short films: H is for House (1976) and A Walk Through H (1978); and theatrical trailer. For The Falls, there is Vertical Features Remake (1978); and video pieces on The Falls and Vertical Features Remake, created by Greenaway.

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