SIFF Sighting: REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE (documentary; The Netherlands)
In Peter Greenaway's REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE the stage is set to unlock a mystery—that of the painting Night Watch, which was completed by the artist in 1642 and remains one of the most famous paintings in history.
Through the voice of a humorous and lively narrator, the audience is treated to a series of interpretations based on various clues displayed within the work. Something as trivial as the placement of a weapon in front of one's genitals is discussed in equal measure with a debate over the (possible) two females in the painting. The cases are also sometimes presented with actors who bring different aspects of the work to life through role play. One especially charming example of this is the "Q & A" the narrator has with Rembrandt's "wife."
But above all of the tongue-in-cheek references and cultural winks, what I appreciated most about the film was something that was brought up in the very beginning: how we don't truly read paintings. It is emphasized that our world is centered around text and words, thus making our brains read any combinations of letters we might see subconsciously if not consciously. With art, we may appreciate the contour of the shapes or recognize the use of color and light, but we aren't conditioned to automatically "read" it. We're typically too focused on the visual to dig deeper into the spiritual or the literal, which causes us to miss millions of messages and stories that are being told in the works.
It makes me want to get on a plane and revisit all of the Italian and Greek galleries I've toured, with a pit stop of course in The Netherlands.
REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE screened at the 35th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.