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3.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Greenaway’s extravagant and exotic look at the mystery behind Rembrandt’s most famous work of art…

While painting a group portrait of the Amsterdam Musketeer Militia, the renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt (Martin Freeman) discovers a murder plot involving its subjects. Determined to expose the conspiracy, Rembrandt builds his accusation into the commissioned painting, “The Night Watch” – a decision which costs him everything.

BONUS FEATURES: Interviews with Peter Greenaway, Martin Freeman, Eva Birthistle and Jodhi May

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Eva Birthistle, Jodhi May, Toby Jones
  • Directors: Peter Greenaway
  • Writers: Peter Greenaway
  • Producers: Bénédicte Humbel, Carlo Dusi, Christine Haebler, Eliane Huss, Grzegorz Hajdarowicz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: E1 Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,180 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nightwatching" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
One of the most famous paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is "The Night Watch," a dark-hued painting filled with richly, colourfully dressed soldiers.

Well, no matter how brilliant they are, most paintings don't end up inspiring movies -- but Peter Greenaway does a pretty brilliant job with "Nightwatching," a semi-fictionalized version of how Rembrandt came to paint it. The "hidden coded message" subplot is a bit awkward, but Greenaway's brilliance shines in how exquisite the movie is -- he wraps the movie in lush, light-soaked beauty, and Rembrandt becomes a very real person.

When his smart, independent wife Saskia (Eva Birthistle) gets pregnant, Rembrandt (Martin Freeman) is called upon to paint an Amsterdam Civil Guard -- he doesn't want to, but reluctantly agrees under the condition that he gets nine months ("(It takes that long to make a baby; it will certainly take that long to make a painting") and chooses the setup. Meanwhile, Saskia gives birth to a healthy baby but becomes ill herself (which frustrates her lusty husband).

In fact, Saskia becomes more sickly as the painting goes on -- and when she dies, Rembrandt's closeness to Titus' nursemaid Geertje (Jodhi May) and maidservant Hendrickje (Emily Holmes) becomes quite different. And his straightforward commission is complicated by the sudden death of a young officer, which reveals a seedy clot of sex, blackmail and corruption. He can't reveal these things in the open, but he can weave them into "The Night Watch."

Rich draperies, misty forests, torch-waving brigades in a darkened bedroom, high windows filled with pale sunlight, vast empty rooms, smoky kitchens, and the pale angelic face of a dead young woman -- "Nightwatching" is a bit like seeing a painting in motion.
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Format: DVD
I adored this movie. I've always been a big Peter Greenaway fan (and I've actually met him as well), but he hasn't been heard of lately, and his Tulse Luper trilogy was hardly released at all. The few clips of that series were quite stodgy and boring. So when Nightwatching came out on DVD, I had reasonably decent expectations. It surprassed them. Nightwatching is a masterpiece, one of Greenaway's best films, and his best film since Prospero's Books.

There is so much to admire in this film. After his disappointing 8 1/2 Women (his worst film), seeing the great Greenaway style again in top form is heartwarming. The cinemtography is really striking. It's some of the best I've seen in Greenaway's work in a long time. The sets are wonderful, the dialogue is witty and hysterical at times, and there's a lot of genuine emotions throughout the film. The intrigue about the painting and the aftermath when it's finished is absolutely fascinating. There is swearing in this film, and while Rembrandt didn't swear like this in his day, the foul language doesn't seem out of place in this setting. The film is told often in a very stylized style, so it's not a completely straightforward biopic, which I find refreshing. It reminds me a little of Derek Jarman's "biographical" films (like Wittgenstein), which tried to get inside the head of the subject more than telling a straightfoward story of their lives.

The most surprising thing about this film is the absolutely wonderful performance by Martin Freeman as Rembrandt. Freeman is a good actor, but he's best known as Tim from the original The Office series, and I was a little weary of seeing him in a real dramatic role. My fears were groundless, as he pulls this role off amazingly. You totally believe he's Rembrandt.
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Format: DVD
"Rembrandt's J'accuse" is a companion piece to Peter Greenaway's "Nightwatching" (2007), a narrative film that dramatizes Greenaway's theory about Rembrandt van Rijn's creation in 1642 of his (currently) most famous painting, "The Night Watch". "Rembrandt's J'accuse" also presents Greenaway's theories about "The Night Watch", but this time the filmmaker does so in person, narrating an investigation into 34 different elements of the painting to make the case that Rembrandt's group portrait of the 13th Company of the Amsterdam Militia is an indictment of guilty parties in a murder conspiracy against Capt. Piers Hasselburg, who died from an "accidental" gunshot through the eye.

Greenaway speaks to us from a small window near the center of the screen, while a parade of paintings, dramatic re-enactments (borrowed from "Nightwatching"), and other visuals parade across the screen. He believes (or so he says) that Rembrandt acted as investigator, detective, and prosecutor in the death of Piers Hasselburg and painted his accusations for all the world to see. Now Greenaway acts as detective and prosecutor, even questioning witnesses from his box center screen, attempting to unearth the clues that Rembrandt supposedly planted in "The Night Watch", an act that Greenaway posits invited his persecution from the painting's angry commissioners, leading to the artist's decline from popularity and eventual destitution.

Sounds pretty far-fetched, especially considering that no one has ever put forth this conspiratorial hypothesis before.
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