A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)
Directed by Peter Greenaway
When the wives of Oswald and Oliver Deuce are killed in a head-on collision with a swan, the twins begin to experiment with time-lapse photography of dead animals and cultivate a relationship with Alba Bewick, the accident’s sole survivor. Having lost one leg, Alba decides to lose the other for symmetry’s sake, while the boys yearn to be surgically reunited with the help of a shady surgeon (Gerard Thoolen) who stages lavish re-enactments of Vermeer paintings in his spare time. Meanwhile, Venus de Milo is telling dirty stories for a small fee, and animal corpses are turning up with improbable frequency.
No movie has ever been less abashed by its mythic, scientific, aesthetic, and metaphysical concerns, here asserting their presence in every inch of the production design and every preposterous plot point. The characters in Zed aren’t convincingly human, but neither are they meant to be. Greenaway is exclusively interested in the details of their anatomy and in assigning them symbolic roles.
Nathan Lee, The Village Voice
Instead of the usual trailer, here’s a very interesting introduction by Peter Greenaway himself:
Zed stands as one of the most bizarre entries from a bizarre body of work. If the plot description alone doesn’t make that apparent, the wacky music, insane symbolism, and jaw-dropping finale will.
Christopher Null, filmcritic.com
A dazzling fusion of the surreal, operatic camp, art theory and natural history documentary with high-end production design, A Zed & Two Noughts is a symphony of decay set to celluloid. The striking visuals, greatly inspired by Johannes Vermeer (a Greenaway obsession), are bold and darkly beautiful thanks to Greenaway’s favourite cinematographer, Sacha Vierny (who also worked with Alain Resnais and Luis Bunuel); while Michael Nyman‘s unforgettable, minimalist score brings all the elements together, making this a delicious cinematic feast for the eyes, the ears and the soul.
Peter Fuller, Movie Talk