Nightwatching (2007)


The Nightwatch

The feature film - Synopsis (from

In 1654 the Dutch painter Rembrandt awakes from a dream of blindness in his marital bed in Amsterdam, to remember the year 1642, and his most celebrated work later to be known as the Nightwatch. He was then at the height of his powers, his career and his wealth and as a consequence commissioned by the Amsterdam Musketeer's Militia to paint their group portrait, thirty one amateur soldiers of the Amsterdam Home Guard on parade. At the insistence of his pregnant wife Saskia, anxious to create a secure future for their longed-for, unborn child, he finally agrees to accept the commission, prophetically fearing ill fortune.

From the retrospective standpoint of 1654, where his young mistress Hendrickje comforts him in his fear of blindness, Rembrandt recalls his preparations for the Nightwatch, considering the tradition of Dutch Militia painting, visiting the Militia at their musket-firing exercises in the Amsterdam fields, and working on experimental compositions with his usual army of tramps and vagrants taken from the streets around his house in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam.

Suddenly there is a death. The sympathetic captain of the Militia is shot dead at musket practice. It is pronounced an accident. There is a new commanding officer backed by new family members and associates. The commission is re-ordered.

Happy at the healthy birth of a longed for son, after having witnessed the death of three infant daughters, and confident in his continually soaring reputation, Rembrandt begins the preparatory drawings of the 31 sitters of the group portrait, only to become gradually disenchanted with their arrogance and their hypocrisy, their unashamed lust and greed. The Golden Age of Holland, is seen to be not so Golden. The reported calumnies he uncovers increase. Child sexual exploitation at the Amsterdam Orphanages governed by some of his sitters, appears on the agenda. Finally evidence surfaces that the so-called accidental death of the last commanding officer of the Amsterdam Militia was not so accidental.
Forward in 1654, in the marital bed between dreaming and waking, Rembrandt's wife, Saskia appears, and she, Hendrickje, and Rembrandt, argue and discuss and quarrel about their past lives, refashioning their memories of the year 1642, when, with his three painter friends and former pupils, Ferdinand Bol, Gerrit Dou and Carel Fabritius, Rembrandt investigates the apparent murder, uncovering more corroborating evidence. Rembrandt very confidently imagines he can build his accusation of murder against the conspiring soldier-merchants into the painting they have commissioned. He collects all the information he needs to make the entire painting an indictment for those who have eyes to see.

And then his moment of great good fortune changes. He confidently, even arrogantly, unveils the finished Nightwatch to his public, his critics, admirers, the Amsterdam bourgeoisie, and the mob of the Jewish quarter. The painted conspirators understand the message and recoil from his accusation. The reaction of the sitters proves their discomfort and guilt, and they seek at once to try to destroy Rembrandt because they dare not destroy the painting which is already being acclaimed a significant work. They start to create the financial and social circumstances for his descent into penury. His wife Saskia dies, having never fully recovered from childbirth. Grief-struck, miserable and lonely, Rembrandt's confidence falters. He takes into his bed, his child's nurse, Geertje, not suspecting she is a treacherous mistress coerced by the conspirators to degrade him socially.

In 1654, Geertje joins Rembrandt's other women in the marital bed, and the squabbling and bickering, accusations and counter-accusations, the protestations of love and the revealing of confidences, the jealousies and the plans for revenge increase between Rembrandt and his three women.

Moving between 1654 and 1642, after his excessively carnal affair with Geertje has reached depths of self abasement, Rembrandt realises the subterfuge of her treachery, which supported behind the scenes by the conspirators, creates an issue at the law courts and the blackmailed Rembrandt is obliged to make humiliating concessions. He throws Geertje out of his house, where no longer useful, she is imprisoned in a house of correction by the conspirators to shut her up, and Rembrandt is forced to care for her keep. Rembrandt finds a new sentimental sexual love with his young servant and model Hendrickje and the conspirators turn their attentions to her, seeking to humiliate her and Rembrandt in the church courts when she becomes pregnant. Deprived of patrons and commissions, with his creditors baying, and his debts all called in, Rembrandt will sink further into insolvency.

Back in 1642, the denouement has been instigated - the troubled commissioners express their anger, adjust their positions and begin to fall out amongst themselves, and the finished painting is hung in its appointed place in the Amsterdam Militia Headquarters, on a court occasion where the Militia painting commissioners are seeking preferment. There they plan Rembrandt's blinding, the blinding that Rembrandt continues to dream about in 1654, a blinding that is in fact no dream but a reality.



"The first question is how could so seriously rich and respected a painter in mid-life, end his life in penury? The second, what was the significance and influence of the three different women in Rembrandt’s life, and with a painter whose insight into character and an inner life is considered so relevant, how did his private domestic life influence his painting? The third question is how do we hope to find a way to understand the Nightwatch with its many curious visual anecdotes, unexplained activities, breaks with traditions and the persistent and prevalent sensation that we are being told something, but we do not know quite what? 
And finally, the last question - and that is - what in fact does painting do? And of course such a question is also relevant to cinema. What is fact does cinema do?

If we visit each question again. It is difficult to understand why a man so rich - considered to be a guilder millionaire in the 1640s, with all the trappings of fortune - big house, smart, good family wife, large atelier, many pupils, printing shop - should end up so badly. Financial mismanagement surely cannot entirely be blamed. There are no records of real wanton spending or abject drunkenness, and his output was continuous and prolific, even after the bankruptcy declaration. Rembrandt would have had to squander money very vigourously to be so high and then fall so low, and there is no evidence. Many have blamed political and social change economically altering the market, but other painters did not fail, and the success of the Dutch painting school continued to develop for another generation until the French marched into Holland in 1674. Some have blamed a change in artistic fashion - a move towards more Italianate models, but Vermeer follows Rembrandt in the century and he succeeded with non-Italian characteristics. Some have suggested Geertje stole and spent and squandered, but it is not easy to see that she could have created such a financial problem. More understandably, some have suggested that Rembrandt began to speculate on the shipping and trading markets - a quick way to loose money. Such speculating was often necessarily keep secret to avoid exploitation and market competition - such secrecy could explain why there are no ready records to prove the theory entirely, though there are some telling comments in various bureaucratic documents. It could be that Rembrandt was persuaded to speculate against his better judgement, and there is some recently uncovered evidence to suggest this. 

To find a consistent way to suggest this change in fortune - this film follows the painting of The Nightwatch’s manufacture from start to finish, and offers to suggest a possible plausible reason why Rembrandt was ruined, by suggesting a concerted social and financial vendetta, of which high-minded Calvinism could be responsible, through envy that a painter, an out-of-town, lowly craftsman could play the markets like a merchant and strut successfully on the stage made for them and not for him. Most of all it speculates on how a quite tightly-knit society, through a concerted effort, could punish a man who broke the rules of Dutch community. Rembrandt exhibited overt success, lived openly in sin with a servant, was not prepared to kneel before patrons. They were mortified that he could criticise, mock and scorn their self-righteousness and taint them with moral crimes and possibly include them in severe accusations of criminality, all publicly displayed in a painting commissioned by them for all to see. They curiously paid for their immorality to be advertised - a severe and mocking accusation. In sum, their arrogant murder of a rival who stood in their way to preferment was perceived by Rembrandt who used the Nightwatch as a J’accuse indictment. That first brave J’accuse indictment by Zola in the anti-Semitic Dreyfus Affair may well have lead to Zola’s death by asphyxiation by person or persons unknown when the stove chimney to his bedroom was blocked and his rooms filled with carbon monoxide. This Rembrandt J’accuse indictment could well have lead to Rembrandt’s death; it certainly seems to have heralded his social and financial ruin. 

The second question - about Rembrandt’s women - reveal three different sorts of classic gender relationships - with Saskia, a dynastic marriage of convenience that became a business partnership and the painted evidence shows this. The second, with Geertje, on the rebound from Saskia’s death, and with Rembrandt suffering great misery, was a long carnal affair, like a long drinking binge to shut out and blot out unhappiness, pushed to the limits of excess, grimy, dirty, self-humiliating, subsequently regretted and vigorously denied, was also revealed in the work. And thirdly, the relationship with Hendrickje - twenty years younger than him, and a servant in economic dependence, a classic older man exploiting his lust, finding a free house-manager and unpaid baby-minder, and unprotesting bed-partner, the classic older man younger woman sentimental relationship that reprises a father daughter relationship, and a master pupil relationship. 

The relationships of course are more complicated than that. They always are. To fit them into a surer context for the purposes of the film, (and not to be completely deny the historical facts) it is considered indeed that both Geertje and Hendrickje are long time members of Rembrandt’s household and well known to Saskia, though there never was any thought of impropriety when Saskia was alive. Availability was a key to Rembrandt’s association with Geertje and Hendrickje. His money and social standing should surely have made him seek partners further up the social ladder. Did he prefer not to for shaming himself with social superiors, was his background as a miller’s son with minimum education make him wary of the educated women - and many Dutch women of no particular social advantage were formidably educated as the high percentage of letter-writing in contemporary Dutch painting would suggest. Or was it the crippling financial arrangements made by Saskia at her death that meant Rembrandt would lose half his fortune to his very young son in the event of his remarriage - another indication of Saskia’s wise level-headedness as a business partner in their dynastic marriage.

Rembrandt has been castigated for painting ‘real’ women - eschewing the heroic traditions where every woman has to be a Juno, a Minerva, a Venus - complaints of flaccid bellies, drooping breasts, and the marks of garters on a calf are frequent. Did his wives sit for him? What sort of sexual manners, habits, fantasies, and relationships did they enjoy? The Dutch are supposedly contradictory - Calvinist and yet extremely tolerant, sensuous and then very matter-of-fact, fastidious and then flagrant. In the end Rembrandt painted very sensuous erotic paintings of women, surely from personal experience. Few would suggest that his vision and his experiences came from the copy-books.

The third question was intellectual and sought answers to the many mysteries and queries and puzzles in the painting. Here is a list of some of those mysteries:

1. Is it significant that Banning-Cocq wears a satanic black outfit?

2. Is it significant that Willem van Ruytenburch is dressed in brightly-lit angelic gold?
An iconoclast at the Rijksmuseum thought so when he slashed both figures with the evil versus good paradigm in mind. 

3. Is it not curious that there is such a difference in height between the two men? Willem van Ruytenburch hardly comes up the Banning-Cocq’s throat. Surely simple propriety could have equalled out the heights of the two men - Willem looks demeaned by being made a ‘shorty’.

4. The outstretched hand of Banning Cocq does not seem to fit so well into Banning-Cocq arm or sleeve. Is there a reason for this?

5. There is a very demonstrative shadow of Banning Cocq’s hand on Willem’s belly. Is this a deliberate provocation of a sexual nature?

6. The head of the lance held by Willem van Ruytenburch seems to be a flagrant genital substitute - complete with dominant penis and a suggestion of testicles - could this really be so accidental? 

7. Banning-Cocq limply holds a glove by the finger with exaggerated distasteful nonchalance in his right hand. The held glove is a right hand glove. Since his right hand is already gloved - and his left-hand very extravagantly ungloved - this held glove cannot be his. Who¹s is it? And what is it doing here? What is going on? 

There are three musketeers in the picture - all copied with Rembrandtian panache from a military hand-book.

8. The musketeer loading the musket is ostensibly doing it the wrong way around - an image of incompetence? Or has Rembrandt been admonished for making Dutch military secret too public for the Spanish?

9. The musketeer firing the musket in the centre of the painting is fully dressed in armour, has an obscured face, is obviously a youth, is firing in a crowded melee with great danger to everyone, is not so securely balanced on his feet and wears an oak leaf twig on his helmet - too many mysteries here to suggest arbitrary concerns - a figure like this would take a day - several days to paint. We are surely sincerely meant to take careful note. 

10. There is a man in the centre of the painting making an ambiguous gesture - is he avoiding the firing, helping it, aiming it to shoot? 

11. Then the curiosity everyone sees - the girl in the brightly painted dress - is it a girl - some say it is a dwarf - perhaps they are thinking of Spanish painting - say Velasquez’s or Ribera’s Court dwarfs? And Rembrandt orders Spanish prints through the print shops in Antwerp. Spain is the traditional enemy. Is she all that is left of the Spanish threat for these useless merchants playing at soldiers - the enemy is now no more than a plaything, a female dwarf, as in the Spanish court itself. Is the enemy now a Spanish dwarf? She is crowned, she has a chicken dangling at her waist - a spiteful bird with claws, the cockerel crowing his empty macho cock-a-doodle-doo - metaphor for the ultimate cuckold. There is a money bag at her waist - paying off the Spanish threat rather than fight it - are there accusations of cowardice here? And she ostentatiously brandishes a goblet. What does all this mean? Dutch painting is full of signs and symbols, metaphors and emblems, allegories and referred narratives - here surely are they all again. How are they to be interpreted?

12. And this brightly-lit girl has a companion with a hidden face - what are both these girls doing? Running away? Running to? Just running? 

13. There is someone else running away - the powder boy on the left - is he a messenger of some sort - a whistle blower, a sneak? A witness eager to tell what he has seen? 

14. There is a one-eyed man at the very back of the crowd in the centre peering over everyone’s shoulder - is it a Rembrandt self-portrait? Rembrandt, it is said, after more than a few people have scrupulously studied his 57 self-portraits, had a lazy eye, an astigmation in his left eye, his sinister eye, but this is his right eye - right for left - because Rembrandt had to paint his self-portrait in a mirror. 

And on we go. 

15. The only figures looking significantly directly ‘at the camera’ at us, are Jacob de Roy in the black hat centre right - and Rembrandt - could this be significant? Are these two people the only two ‘in the know’?

16. The composition of the painting centres strongly on the two central figures, Banning-Cocq, Willem van Ruytenburch, and the man in the middle of them, Jongkind. The pointing hands, the gestures, the compositional lines - are they more than just compositional - are they accusational? And if a little of the painting is removed, cut off from the left hand side of the painting - these characters become even more central. And a little of the left hand side of the painting was cut off. In 1715. The painting stayed under Banning-Cocq control. Did they cut off this portion for merely practical considerations, or is there a more important reason? 

17. There is a man - Bloemfeldt - with his comedy hat and false moustache -centre. What is an actor doing in this painting?

18. There are exactly 13 pikes in the picture - thirteen was an unlucky number in the mid-17th century - accidental? 

4. And my fourth question. When is a painter not a painter? 

It is the old perennial problem about painting (and cinema), especially illusionistic baroque painting, indeed all painting before the 1860s - why does all painting deny itself and pretend to be something else, why does it always use every trick in the book to be pretend to be ‘real’, even right down to the outstretched hand of Banning-Cocq that is so praised for breaking the painter’s picture surface - the very thing it should not do. And therefore was Rembrandt really a painter at all - was he not - like so many of his contemporaries - a man of the drama stage, composing frozen moments of illusionistic and manipulative theatre, and in so doing prophesying the cinema medium? There is certainly some suggestion that cinematic film noire arose from these tenebrist and post-tenebrist painters - Caravaggio in the South, Rembrandt in the North, and all their numerous followers and imitators - deep chiaroscuro expressionist lighting, moving into a modern world with sharper architectural components and greater possibilities of artificial light - stronger, more directable, bigger in possible scale, but exaggeratedly fashioned in black and white because good colour was not available." - Peter Greenaway


Rembrandt's J'Accuse

Peter Greenaway's introduction to the Nightwatching book

There is a conspiracy painted in Rembrandt's The Nightwatch. The sinister title of the painting alone suggests we should look for it. And we should listen too to the sound-track of the painting. Amongst all the hullabaloo, the dogs barking, the drummer drumming, the clattering of thirteen pikes, the harrowing of Banning Cocq, the loudest sound is of a musket shot. You can see the flame of the firing, bursting forth behind the head of the foreground shining figure in yellow, who carries the head of his halberd where his prick should be, and whose belly is groped by the shadow of the hand of his companion. Where did the bullet go? We should investigate, and when we do, in the end, with a little ingenious adventuring, we can plainly see that the whole gaudy endeavour of this painting of Rembrandt's Nightwatch, probably the third most celebrated in the Western World after Leonardo's Mona Lisa, a subversive painting if ever there was one, and Michelangelo's Sistine offering, certainly a pagan painting paid for by a Christian pope, is going to stir up trouble. It is, in that tradition where great painters are known by their Christian names, Rembrandt's great subversive act - his J'accuse. The painting is a demonstration of murder with the murderers all picked out in detail. How delicious is the thought that Rembrandt got paid, and got paid quite well for revealing the truth about that part-time, home-guard, Amsterdam's burgher-party playing at soldiers in the Golden Age of Holland's greatest fifteen minutes of Warhole good fortune.

There is an academic tradition in the investigation of great paintings for meanings that are supposedly concealed; Della Francesca's Flagellation of Christ, investigated by many, and none more thoroughly, and certainly more recently, than Carlo Ginsburg. Veronese's Marriage of Cana has been scrupulously investigated as The Marriage of Christ. Giorgione's Tempest, like so many mysterious Giorgione paintings, refuses to yield a satisfactory meaning. Velasquez's Las Meninas, that extraordinary mirror-fixated, imaginary-space-choreographed puzzle always demands meanings that would seem to want to bring down the Spanish monarchy at the very least, and of course now, thanks to Dan Brown's da Vinci Code, everyone is making a re-visit to the female St Peter/Mary Magdalene/Christ-bride in the da Vinci Last Supper.

We intend to make a film about Rembrandt's forensic enquiry in paint, his Crime Scene Investigation in the Breestraat, and we intend to call our case-history Nightwatching. The fascination of such interpretative investigation of the painted or drawn image would go back for me to the 1982 The Draughtsman's Contract, where indeed a murder was perceived through the contemplation of a set of drawings as they were being made, though the drawings were "fictitious" and made to contain the plot and not, as here with The Nightwatch, the other way around. In film narrative terms The Draughtsman's Contract has sometimes been compared to the central premise of Antonioni's Blow-up where David Hemmings closely examines the ambiguous details of a photograph that supposedly contains evidence of murder. There is an even more ripe and sinister film - though of a completely different nature and import - the Zapruder amateur film shot of the Kennedy assassination where such now evocative emblems as the grassy knoll and the book depository building, frame a landscape, and some perceive, a gun-shot flash (not perhaps unlike the gunshot flash in the Nightwatch) in a notorious numbered film frame, that certainly did not come from Lee Harvey Oswald's gun and that seriously needs an explanation.

The overwise academics are going to have apoplexy with the argument of this film that makes Rembrandt a Sherlock Holmes, the open-minded academics are going to be amused and hopefully intrigued - here, afterall, is an interpretation that fits the rules and the observations and the history (most of the history) that is smart and ingenious and nicely ironic, a gesture in a love-hate fashion not for Rembrandt himself who probably steps beyond such a reaction, but for the hagiography of Rembrandt and those who preen their relationship with the great painter in too many uncritical, unqualified, sycophantic metaphors. Rembrandt, I am sure, would have been amused by this film.


Peter Greenaway on Rembrandt from The Times:

Fashions in morals, aesthetics, technologies and even media change, like all else. But from this standpoint at the start of the 21st century, as the National Gallery displays 60 Dutch portraits from 1600-1680, we can put forward a compelling claim that Rembrandt is the greatest painter since the Renaissance.

He is figurative, unheroic, republican, a democrat, humanitarian, postFreudian, pro-narrative, antimisogynist, pro-feminist and certainly postmodernist. He’s a history-remaker, an eclectic, an ironist, with bags of self-reflexive knowledge and know-how. He draws and paints the man in the street, the woman next door, the cripple, the vagrant, the exile, the immigrant, the Jew, the negro, the plump female with garter marks on her calves, the plain vulnerable and the vulnerable in the mighty. He has pathos without sentimentality, humour without guile and infinite sympathy. He’s a family man, painting wives lying in bed and babies frightened by dogs.

And he can be very sexy. His paintings of the female nude are highly commendable. There are very few male nudes indeed – a 16-year-old son of Isaac with a knife at his throat, four tortured crucifixions and a couple of male corpses stripped of clothes and skin for two anatomy lessons. Male nudity and violence appear to go hand in hand with Rembrandt.

But with the naked females, it is different. There is no giggling, no sarcasm, no contempt, no cynicism. No knowing, smart-arsed prioritising for the predatory male gaze. Hendrickje standing in a stream, Geertje rising on an elbow in bed. A thoughtful Bathsheba. And clothed but with equally sexy contented domestic intimacy, there is a pregnant Saskia as Flora with a mighty bunch of flowers six months into their marriage, and Saskia as Flora holding a single carnation six weeks from the end of their marriage. If you did want monks enjoying a sexual frolic, and a woman peeing unconcerned on a country road, you’ve got it. No judgments. And curiously very Dutch.

And he could certainly paint; anything and everything, and with exuberance and panache. Perhaps he is everything, in fact, that men and women of the world would want for our better selves; unbiased, unprejudiced and infinitely curious.

In 1642, when he painted the Night-watch, which has inspired my next feature film, he is 36 years old, top of his form, top of his career, the top painter in Amsterdam. He has a big house, a smart wife, and his paintings are owned by the Stuarts in London and the Medici in Florence. In Antwerp, his prints sell at a hundred guilders a time – a fantastic price. He is painting the nightclub set, painting the chattering classes, their wives, grandsons and hangers-on. Tulp, Six, de Graeff, all intermarrying, socialising to keep the Amsterdam fortunes intact and in the right hands.

He’s got good spirit, taking Andries de Graeff to court because his wife objected to his portrait of her husband looking drunk and unsteady. “Paint me as I am,” de Graeff says boldly, not thinking that an upstart from Leiden would dare do such a thing. A David and Goliath law-court case ensues. Rembrandt wins, and de Graeff, the richest man in town, has to pay up.

And then Rembrandt adds to our sympathy by letting it all slip away, losing it. Or he is persuaded, coerced, cajoled and hounded to make it all slip away. Private commissions dry up, consorts are insulted, the fashionable creep away, mortgages foreclosed, public commissions repudiated. Our sympathy increases as his vulnerability increases.

Fifteen years later, he is forced to leave his smart house in the Jodenbreestraat and is living in a one-up-two-down in the Jordaan, the proletariat suburbs of Amsterdam in the shadow of the Westerkerk where he will be buried, and his bones lost, and where Anne Frank will hear bells from that same church tower nearly 300 years later.

We’ve been looking long and hard at all these Dutch portraits, whether they be true likenesses, allegories, archetypes, impersonations of the Old Testament or Ovid, flattering or not flattering.

And we have impersonated those folks in a film drama all about light. Martin Freeman is the 36-year-old Rembrandt, snub-nosed, plump at the midriff, stocky legged. Carel Fabritius (blown up in a gunpowder explosion) and Ferdinand Bol (rich man dying in a bed with gilt sunflowers on the bed-frame) are there. By now, in the 1640s, these are his maturer pupils but still his drinking companions, and Gerard Dou, older still and played by Toby Jones, the painter who painted with a single squirrel hair brush and made almost as much money as Rembrandt himself when the fashions changed and Italian high-gloss, no-brushmarks painting pushed its way right in. And of course the women are there. Saskia, played by Eva Birthistle, and Geertje played by Jodhi May – solid out-of-town nononsense Leeuwarden ladies from up North.

The “painter film” is a small genre of its own: Michelangelo, Rembrandt himself (at least twice), Modigliani, Caravaggio, etc, and none more so than just lately. Picasso, Van Gogh (repeatedly), Bacon, Vermeer, and now Goya have received the treatment. I suppose our major aim in the film Nightwatching, apart from trying to match the Master’s mastery of light, is to demonstrate Rembrandt as social moralist: it contains a murder mystery – the unravelling of which is the heart of the film. And also to regard Rembrandt as an inventor of cinema before the Lumière brothers.

The big three really serious high Baroque painters, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Velázquez, were all painters of artificial light at a time when serious artificial light became powerful enough to matter. These painters, so they say, were all blessed with retinal handicaps, accompanied, as it were, with advantageous partial blindnesses: Caravaggio apparently had red-colour vision, permitting him to see in high contrast, with no or little differentiation between black and red; Rembrandt had an astigmatism in his right eye and was thus prone to the advantages, to a painter, of monocular vision – think of that cliché of a painter squinting through one eye; and Velázquez had an unstable and floating left-eye retina that, through unsteady focus control, allowed him to to essay movement as well as light – look at the spinning wheel in The Fable of Arachne, and the fluttering, never-still hands of the maids in Las Meninas.

We tried to rise to the challenge in the film, remaking, with high definition digital tape, that upper right-hand corner space of Velázquez’s Las Meninas – the area between the walls and ceiling has been described as the greatest bit of painting ever – a painting which is just and only and magnificently a painting of a block of darkly contrasting air. We, too, attempting a grand response Rembrandt image of light, tried to film a block of air that insubstantionally floats, irrespective of walls and ceiling.

Godard said that the cinema was the truth 24 frames a second. Can painting go better and say that paintings are the truth for all time? What’s a second in cinema time if you can have an eternity in painting time? Cinema has come and gone in 112 years. What, then, is the age of painting?


Nightwatching poster


Martin Freeman .... Rembrandt van Rijn

Emily Holmes .... Hendrickje

Michael Teigen .... Carel Fabritius 
Toby Jones .... Gerard Dou

Nathalie Press .... Marieke 

Jodhi May .... Geertje 

Richard McCabe .... Bloefeldt 

Eva Birthistle .... Saskia

Adrian Lukis .... Frans Banning Cocq 
Kevin McNulty .... Engelen 

Michael Culkin .... Herman Wormskerck

Matthew Walker .... Matthias van der Meulen

Adam Kotz .... Willem van Ruytenburgh 
Fiona O'Shaughnessy .... Marita

Christopher Britton .... Rombout Kemp 

Maciej Zakoscielny .... Egremont 

Andrzej Seweryn .... Piers Hasselburg 
Krzysztof Pieczynski .... Jacob de Roy 

Anna Antonowicz .... Catharina 
Jonathan Holmes .... Ferdinand Bo

Agata Buzek .... Titia Uylenburgh 
Jonathan Young .... Visscher 
Jochum ten Haaf .... Jongkind 
Rafal Mohr .... Cocq's nephew Floris 
Harry Ferrier .... Carl Hasselburg 
Maciej Marczewski .... Cocq's brother-in-law Clem 
Kacper Kasiecki .... Titus (4 months) 
Robert Zalecki .... Titus (toddler) 
Hugh Thomas .... Jacob Jorisz 



Martin Freeman as Rembrandt

Martin Freeman as Rembrandt


Greenaway interview on Radio 4



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Water Wrackets

Dear Phone

Vertical Features Remake

A Walk Through H

The Falls

Act of God

The Draughtsman's Contract

The Sea in their Blood

Making a Splash

A Zed & Two Noughts

26 Bathrooms  

The Belly of an Architect

Drowning by Numbers

Fear of Drowning

Death in the Seine

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

A TV Dante: The Inferno Cantos I-VIII

Prospero's Books

M is for Man, Music and Mozart


The Baby of Mâcon

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The Pillow Book

8 1/2 Women

The Death of a Composer

The Tulse Luper Suitcases

The European Showerbath

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