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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was historically interesting but didn't hold my interest. It was quite long and I felt myself drifting off by the end.Published 29 days ago by Kelsey
Nightwatching takes up the idea that the Rembrandt's great painting, now named the Nightwatch (it's actually a day scene), is filled with the conspirators and scoundrels of several... Read morePublished 1 month ago by robert mcmurry
Rembrandt was a great artist and I learned something about art from the additional DVD.
This is a very good film and Martin Freeman is really acting at his best in this, but I... Read more
My heart sank when I saw that it was government funded. My low expectations were not exceeded. It was unwatchable.Published 4 months ago by ChrisF
An interesting two dic piece. Interesting to know what goes into a painting and how it can ruin a great artist.
Martin Freeman in the lead role is most interesting.
I was really looking forward to this movie because I love Martin Freeman in Sherlock and I'm interested in Rembrandt. But I just couldn't get through it. Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by Heidi Johnson
I waited to understand the plot but never did.
Perhaps it was my straining to hear the dialogue or the distance from the actors in most scenes. Read more
I really did NOT have any idea what the film was about and have NO excuse for buying it. I like stage plays though so it made sense after a bit. Read morePublished on October 7, 2013 by Peter N. Anderson