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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 December 2006, 00:48 GMT
Greenaway's maverick film-making
Peter Greenaway
Greenaway's controversial films have become cult favourites
Controversial film director Peter Greenaway, best known for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover has been made a CBE in the New Year Honours.

Born in Newport, Wales, in 1942 he was raised in London and studied design at Walthamstow School of Art in the 1960s.

He spent several years working for the government before releasing his first feature film, The Falls, in 1980.

Regularly nominated at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, he has also composed for opera and exhibited art.

A trained painter, many of his films deal with art - including his next movie, Nightwatching, which stars The Office actor Tim Freeman as Rembrandt.

Intrigue and sex

Cinema is dead
Peter Greenaway

His breakthrough hit, The Draughtsman's Contract, also features an artist, who is hired to make drawings of a country estate and finds himself implicated in the murder of the landowner.

The 1982 film introduces many of Greenaway's other recurring themes - a literary script, rich in allusion, and a penchant for intrigue and sex.

It also saw the director collaborate with composer Michael Nyman, whose minimalist soundtracks provide the backdrop to many of Greenaway's most famous films.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren starred in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
These include 1988's Drowning by Numbers, which follows a trio of husband-murdering women, played by Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson and Joely Richardson.

But Greenaway's biggest commercial success came the following year with The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

The film, which stars Dame Helen Mirren and Tim Roth, deals with greed, sex and desire - although it can also be read as a criticism of the materialistic culture of Thatcherite Britain.

However, it became as notorious for its X-rated scenes of cannibalism and full-frontal nudity as for its moral message.

'Cinema is dead'

Despite the film's popularity, Greenaway refused to tone down the shocking images and confrontational situations in his subsequent movies, with 1993's The Baby of Macon causing an outcry over its depiction of a virgin raped to death.

In recent years, the director has increasingly moved away from film, turning his attention to art installations and interactive storytelling.

In 2002, he proclaimed "cinema is dead" in an interview with The Times newspaper.

He blamed film's reliance on literary adaptations, dismissing box office hits such as The Lord Of The Rings as "cynical exercises in making a quick buck".

A year later, he announced plans to revive the medium with a massive multi-media project known as The Tulse Luper Suitcases.

It consisted of an eight-hour long film, split into three for general showing, along with 92 other elements spread over DVDs, books, CD-Roms, television and the internet.

Greenaway now lives in Holland with his second wife and a three-year-old child, and teaches cinema studies at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.




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