This passage, from a 1988 Zoom interview, demonstrates more clearly than I ever could why Peter Greenaway is a genius:
In an interview, you said that cinema is too important to hand over to the storytellers.BRB, going to get all this tattooed on my back now. (I don't suppose Precious Slut will be able to handle it?)
That statement has brought me grief, especially in England. It appears that English and, even more so, American films are perfect in recounting a straight line narrative. They achieve it through the use of suspense and asking the viewers to identify with the main characters. That accounts for all those psychological dramas.
I think that the greatest art works — and I exclude those found in film — have had far greater means at their disposal. Only cinema narrows its concern down to its content, that is to its story. It should, instead, concern itself with its form, its structure. Artistically, film is a very rich medium; it has so many indescribable possibilities, and hardly anyone uses them. It seems to me that the majority of directors make their films with only one eye open and their arms tied behind them. The capability of film to become an extraordinary and astonishing medium is completely ignored. One should not tell stories as straight line narratives. There are so many other possibilities, and film would only enrich them. Most of the time, I am utterly bored in the cinema; I think that most films are poorly made.
But your films also tell stories.
That's true. But for me the stories are only the hook on which to hang one's hat. After a very short time, one understands the plot of my films; it isn't that important to me what happens, only how it happens. Most films insult the viewers whereas I believe the public is far smarter and receptive than many producers and directors give them credit for.