The Tulse Luper Suitcases

The Tulse Luper Suitcases

The Tulse Luper Suitcases reconstructs the life of Tulse Luper, a professional writer and project-maker, caught up in a life of prisons. He was born in 1911 in Newport, South Wales and presumably last heard of in 1989. His life is reconstructed from the evidence of 92 suitcases found around the world - 92 being the atomic number of the element Uranium. 

The project includes three feature films, a TV series, 92 DVDs, CD-ROMs, and books.  

 

"One description of The Tulse Luper Suitcases is to describe it as the autobiography of a professional prisoner. It may be that we are all prisoners of something - love, money, sex, fame, religious belief, power, ambition, greed, debt, a job, a garden, a dog, train-time-tables, a mortgage, perhaps just the grocery bill. Consequently most prisons are not rooms with a barred window and a locked door. And a second truism - every prisoner needs a jailer just as every jailer needs a prisoner to legitimise his job description. The resultant relationship is a balance of power situation, and now always weighted in favour of the jailer. The above list is no idle list, for my hero, Tulse Luper, not so many million miles from me, his author, suffers from being imprisioned by most of these characteristics. Of course as author, I am Tulse Luper's jailer, just as I am his prisoner. But I get to choose the prisons. The whole of The Tulse Luper Suitcases project could be said to be an indulgence for me to film in many of those most exciting architectural situations I have enjoyed. The Mole Antonelliana in Turin is one of those situations. The building was not conceived as a prison, but consider its origins, its history and its present function, from a place of worship to another place of worship. From a synagogue to a Museum of the Moving Image. Dedicated to a Jewish God and secondly to Cinema, maybe two sorts of prison. Tulse Luper certainly, in the total project of The Tulse Luper Suitcases, spends energy fighting battles relevant to the Jewish God and his fight is certainly relevant to the conditions of Cinema. But the mole is a tower and from the top of the tower you can see for miles and miles - a sort of metaphor that needs perhaps no further explanation - it is a prison with a view - perhaps that is what - spiritually - prisons can be. Tulse Luper tries to make all the prisons of The Tulse Luper Suitcases, prisons with a view." - Peter Greenaway, introduction to the Tulse Luper in Turin book

"The Tulse Luper Suitcases endeavours to utilise and develop a multi-screen language in the various ways Abel Gance anticipated and certainly to take it beyond. Superb steadiness, immaculate framed edges are digitally edited on High Definition tape at increasing near real-time editing speeds. Before, during, after; past present future; fast, slow, slowest, repetitions, reprises, across screen devices of innumerable continuities, developing a language that equates more with human experience in its interactions between reality, memory and imagination." - Peter Greenaway, Cinema Militans lecture, 2003 

 

 

Listen to a Peter Greenaway interview here

View images from all three films here

Download music from the films here

Watch The Moab Story trailer here

Access an interactive webler here

 

 

The Moab Story DVD

 

The Tulse Luper Suitcases: The Moab Story
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Current Results

The Tulse Luper Suitcases: Vaux to the Sea
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Current Results

The Tulse Luper Suitcases: From Sark to Finish
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Current Results

Tulse Luper at Compton Verney

92 SUITCASES

  1. COAL

  2. TOYS

  3. LUPER PHOTOS

  4. LOVE LETTERS

  5. CLOTHES

  6. CLOTHES

  7. VATICAN PORNOGRAPHY

  8. FISH

  9. PENCILS

  10. HOLES

  11. MOAB PHOTOGRAPHS

  12. FROGS

  13. FOOD DROP

  14. DOLLARS

  15. COINS

  16. LUPER'S LOST FILMS

  17. ALCOHOL

  18. PERFUME

  19. PASSPORTS

  20. BLOODIED WALLPAPER

  21. CLEANING FLUIDS

  22. DENTAL TOOLS

  23. CHERRIES

  24. HONEY

  25. NUMBERS & LETTERS

  26. LUPER UNIFORMS

  27. DOG BONES

  28. LOCKS AND KEYS

  29. LIGHT-BULBS

  30. PLACE-NAMES

  31. BOOTS AND SHOES

  32. ZOO ANIMALS ARK

  33. IDEAS OF AMERICA

  34. ANNA KARENINA NOVELS

  35. CANDLES

  36. RADIO EQUIPMENT

  37. CLEAN LINEN

  38. WATER

  39. CODE

  40. A SLEEPER

  41. EROTIC ENGRAVINGS

  42. 92 OBJECTS TO REPRESENT THE WORLD

  43. RAINBOWS

  44. PRISON MOVIE FILM-CLIPS

  45. MANUSCRIPTS FOR THE BABY OF STRASBOURG

  46. HOLOCAUST GOLD

  47. CHILDREN

  48. DEAD ROSES

  49. TRAINS

  50. SEWING NEEDLES

  51. SHOWER-HEADS

  52. 55 MEN ON HORSEBACK

  53. CHINA DOGS

  54. BRUSHES

  55. DRAWINGS OF LUPER

  56. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

  57. SMOKED CIGARS

  58. BODY-PARTS

  59. INGRES PAINTINGS

  60. BROKEN GLASS

  61. MOITESSIER GOWNS

  62. CRABCLAWS

  63. FEATHERS AND EGGS

  64. YELLOW PAINT

  65. TENNIS BALLS

  66. BOTTLE MESSAGES

  67. GREEN APPLES

  68. PIG

  69. SPENT MATCHES

  70. SAUCEPANS

  71. FLOWER BULBS

  72. RESTAURANT MENUS

  73. 92 ATOMIC ELEMENTS

  74. VIOLIN SPLINTERS

  75. FIRE

  76. LEAD

  77. OBELISKS

  78. ROMAN POSTCARDS

  79. HOLY EARTH

  80. GREEN FIGS

  81. LIGHT

  82. NOTES ON DROWNED CORPSES

  83. MAPS

  84. BOARD GAMES

  85. INK & BLOOD

  86. LUPER STORY MANUSCRIPTS

  87. ICE

  88. MEASURING TOOLS

  89. TYPEWRITER

  90. DOLLS

  91. THE PHRENOLOGICAL BOOK

  92. LUPER'S LIFE

 

LUPER'S LOST FILMS - SUITCASE 16

WATCHING WATER
SUNDAY CITY-MAN
EROSION
FIRST POSITION
GESANG DER JUGEND
FLYING OVER WATER
TRAIN
TREE
ARE EN CIEL
THE VUE
BRIDZOR ALLEY
WARDOUR
INTERVALS
VATHEK REVISITED
THE MAN WHO MET HIMSELF
BACK-UP
FOOTHILL ABBEY
THE RACE
MAKING A SPLASH
BECKFORD'S FOLLY
APPLE ORCHARD
MARIOTS OF THE WHITE SHEET HILLS
WATER
THE NIGHT EDGE
BRIDZOR
POST AND VEIL
SHAVE
CHRIST'S HORSEMAN
FALSE START
DEAR PHONE
STAYING PRESENT
PARALLEL
WATER WRACKETS
THE LAST MAP
RED PIGMENT
THE FALLS
IRISH GULLS
EIFFEL TOWER SUICIDES
FIVE POSTCARDS OF CAPITAL CITIES
VERTICAL FEATURES
GOOLE BY NUMBERS
THE WATER-TOWERS
CORNTOPIA
THE IRR
FONTENAY
THE GROOMBRIDGE STAR

 

J.J. Feild, Peter Greenaway and Valentina Cervi at the Cannes Film Festival, May 2003

J.J. Feild, Peter Greenaway and Valentina Cervi at the Cannes Film Festival, May 2003

 

Peter Greenaway on set with Anna Galiena (left) and Franka Potente (right)

Peter Greenaway on set with Anna Galiena (left) and Franka Potente (right)

 

Peter Greenaway with actresses Isabella Rossellini (left) and Ana Torrent (right) in Barcelona

Peter Greenaway with actresses Isabella Rossellini (left) and Ana Torrent (right) in Barcelona

 

Peter Greenaway and Franka Potente at the Berlin Film Festival, February 2004

Peter Greenaway and Franka Potente at the Berlin Film Festival, February 2004

 

Links on the Project

The Official Site

Tulse Luper in Turin

Tulse Luper in Venice

Tulse Luper Manual

Tulse Luper Journey

Suitcases Art

Kasander Film

Cannes Film Festival

Tulse Luper 92 Suitcases

PG Encyclopedia

tulseluper.net

Cineeuropa

ABS Production

Bolzano Gold

Spietati

Allmovie

Trailer

Webler

IMDb

 

Essays

 

Gray Kochhar-Lindgren

Heidi Peeters

Zoe Constantinides

 

 

The Tulse Luper Suitcases Contest Results

 

1st: Suitcase 24 - Honey

2nd: Suitcase 27 - Dog Bones

3rd: Suitcase 85 - Blood and Ink

 

Other Entries

 

Vermeer and the Dentist

55 Men on Horseback

Numbers & Letters

Drawing Reality

Keys & Locks

Place-Names

Erotic Prints

Manuscripts

Clean Linen

Body Parts

Rainbows

Candles

Needles

Brushes

Water

 

 

The Peter Greenaway Tulse Luper Suitcases Interview

92 Suitcases

"What becomes important now is the suitcases that Tulse Luper has been packing throughout his life become more important than the man. So we begin to piece together Tulse Luper's history through his suitcases. And this, I hope, is where all the interactive media take place. We have, I hope, six hours of film time in terms of three feature films all relating narratively, and I hope very comprehensively, these exciting adventures with all these hundreds of characters, and all these suitcases will be introduced narratively and conventionally in the feature films. But I don't want audiences to spend time packing and unpacking these suitcases, they can pack them and unpack on alternative media, like the phenomenon of the CD-ROM and certainly DVD. And these suitcases themselves are very complicated. Like one of the suitcases for example is full of 92 bars of Nazi gold, and every single bar has where the gold came from. We can pack and unpack this suitcase of Nazi gold bar by bar, so in a sense the whole suitcase is the actual length of one feature film retracing where all this gold came from, where it was confiscated from, according to the possessions of holocaust Jews whose possession they where once upon a time. There's a suitcase of Vatican pornography which all has to be examined. There's simply suitcases of shoes, 92 shoes, and we examine all the characters who used to wear those shoes. There's a suitcase of cork frogs, which are signatures of a group of European assassins. There's suitcases of burnt dog burns; female underwear belonging to famous American film stars. And all this information has to be examined and re-examined, and it can be either on the website or certainly on CD-ROMs or DVDs, be somehow interactive. And the information that you get from these ancillary activities compliments what you see in the feature films."

 

Alter Ego

"Well the title of this huge ambitious project is called The Tulse Luper Suitcase. What's, I suppose, initially important is we should hang on to the word Suitcase rather than Tulse Luper. For me it's an opportunity to go back to a whole series of private mythological characters that I invented at the very beginning of my film career, and we're talking now, I suppose, about first films I ever made in the late 1960s, beginning to get a lot more serious throughout the 1970s, and they culminated in 1978 with, I suppose, my first feature film I made, it was called The Falls. It was called that because all the characters, their surnames all began with the letters F A L L. It was a time of examination of film structuralism and there was a lot of organisation of material that was related to the business of non-narrative structures. This was my attempt to put together a huge encyclopedia of material, which was essentially about one of my fascinations, which was ornithology and notions of flight, the ultimate human dream is the desire to fly. And amongst all the characters I invented for this three-and-a-half hour film was a man called Tulse Luper - Tulse rhymes with Pulse, a vegetable fed to cattle; Luper is vaguely a translation from the Latin for the wolf. But for me he was a character who, I suppose, was like an alter ego. I was a very shy young man in those days and I found it very, very difficult to say Peter Greenaway said, so I blamed all my extravagances, obsessions and fascinations on this man called Tulse Luper."

 

Tulse Luper 

"I think the first time he ever appeared I made an illustrated childrenís book simply called Tulse Luper and the Centre Walk, and it was a great collage of references again about the sorts of subject matter that eventually went into this film called The Falls. Very rapidly Tulse Luper needed to be surrounded by other mythological figures. He was predominantly, I suppose, a polyglot, a polymath, a man who was always speaking his mind, having all sorts of extravagant theories and embraced, for me, a lot of my literary heroes of that time. I was a keen Borges fan, so there was a bit of Borges in this man. I was interested in, I suppose, American and European literary figures and painters, so one of my favourite American painters, R.B Kitaj, was part of the phenomenon, Buckminster Fuller, Calvino, shades of my Father were in there, Father Christmas, all sorts of childhood heroes - an amalgam of people whose attitudes and positions and perspective had interested me in some particular way. He needed a mistress, he needed a wife - I invented a woman called Cissie Colpitts, she eventually turned up in a film called Drowning by Numbers three times over. He began to accrue around himself all sorts of people who were potentially his academic enemies. There was a man called Van Hoyten who turned up in a film called A Zed & Two Noughts. Then there were a series of background shady figures Ė there was a man called Gang Lion, there was another character called Lephrenic. I made, I suppose, about thirty films before my big breakthrough film which was The Draughtsmanís Contract made in 1982, and a lot of these characters all circulating around this man called Tulse Luper had a certain sort of filmic life."

 

Language

"I suppose over the last ten years Iíve been exploring the sort of cinema language which I now feel very confident about, I suppose most exemplified in a film like The Pillow Book. And now very much I want to be certain of utilising all the new forms of language. My general interests are non-realistic, are to do with ideas of non-narrative, non-chronological perception. I started my career off has a painter, and I would still very much use painterly attitudes, essentially non-narrative single statement attitudes about picture-making has being the core and predominant interests of my activity. But I think now that I really must get to very serious grips with all the potential of this vast encyclopedic picture-making process. So The Tulse Luper Suitcase is not just going to be three feature films, itís also going to spill over into all the ancillary cousins and relatives of the moving picture business. I want to be able again to go back to manipulate the world in a peculiar way in which the painter is able to manipulate the world. And finally, what is it, 105 years of cinema? I feel that cinema is now in extremely good position to change its character and get away from all mimicy characteristics, which very much fixed long tradition of cinematic activity to what I would basically call illustration of the nineteenth century novel, and in some ways the prologue of cinema is over and now we can really begin. So this is a vehicle for me to be able to explore all those different languages, because I think anybody who has observed my cinema Iím very much interested in language. French philosophers of the last forty, fifty years have told us thereís no such thing as content anymore, content very rapidly atrophies and all youíre left with is a language, but the language is the content and itís these sorts of ideas that I now really want to push home." 

 

Atomic Table  

"So I've often tried in my many, many films, we've made over 70 films now, to find other ways of organising the material. I do it with my tongue in my cheek. I don't have a great mystical, cabalistic delight necessarily in numerology. I don't believe in the magic of numbers, it's a convenience; but it is a way in which it's finite and all the world understands. So a number count now of 1 to 100 or 1 to 92 is understood now by every civilization in the world for the first time. So these are unifying systems, we can now all talk to one another with confidence. I was a great admirer of a novel called Atomic Table by the Italian author Italo Calvino, and it made a demonstration of the fixity all over the known universe - atomic numbers are fixed and sacred, they will not change right out to the very edges of the known universe. So the significance of Armageddon being represented by 92 is both, shall we say, a profundity but also something to play with. So I want to structure this whole project on the notion of the number of 92. There are 92 characters, there are 92 major events, and what's most important: there are 92 suitcases."

 

Uranium Baby

"The whole project has a secondary title, which is A History of Uranium in the Twentieth Century. I think future historians might very well look at the twentieth century and regard it as being the century of Uranium. Uranium discovered in the Colorado deserts, I suppose in the 1920s, misunderstood until the prerogatives of the Second World War became to make it somehow necessary to make the ultimate weapon, responsible for great symbolic disasters like Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. And then begins the long Cold War which, I suppose, runs exactly parallel to my later childhood and all the period I was a student, so in a sense I am a Uranium baby. The history of Uranium, politically and psychologically, somehow has run parallel to my life. Ultimately, they say 1989 when the Berlin Wall comes down that's the end of the Cold War, but we still know that, for example, Pakistan and India are still aggressively sparring with one another about the notion still of atomic power. So Uranium standing in for Armageddon, the great disaster has being responsible for so much of the middle period, middle and late period history." 

 

Baggage

"Itís interesting that the title, I hope itís interesting, that the title is The Tulse Luper Suitcase, and the suitcase is a very important metaphor for the end of the twentieth century. The worldís population is very mobile, everybodyís on the move. If you discuss with American adults now, very few of them ever live in the place where they were born - thatís very largely to do with voluntary movement. But if you look at Central Europe and Russia with the collapse of Communism and the history of the end of the twentieth century, there are vast amounts of people on the move. 25,000 young people are supposed to move into Beijing and Shanghai every day and stay there. And we know whatís happening in Central Europe and Africa. So the idea of your house and possessions all wrapped-up in a suitcase is a very good metaphor, both literally Ė carry your toothbrush with you - but also in terms of cultural baggage, you carry your metaphorical, symbolic baggage with you. You manoeuvre and become this highly mobile, eclectic personality, gathering in the worldís information in an age of information. So I think itís a very good metaphor at the end of the twentieth century. And the packing and unpacking and the significance of suitcases is going to be very, very important in this movie."

 

Deeply Buried

"It's a bit like opening windows, so although you're upfront with the history of Tulse Luper you realize there are films beyond films beyond films beyond films, so you can take another one of these 92 characters and open up a huge panorama of windows beyond windows stretching to infinity. Some of the devices you want to play at the information is so deeply buried that nobody will ever find it, an indication, I suppose, of the way that history is organised. An ideal history of the world is a history of every single one of its members, but we know that's a mocking proposition, which could never be entertained. All forms, I suppose, of encyclopedias have to be very brief, they have to be resumes, but I was always fascinated by Borges, that the map of the world is the same size of the world, so you have to invent a parallel world to run alongside a real one."

 

Blown Open 

"The organisation of painting space in a gallery or on a private situation gives you the viewer the opportunity, how shall I say this, you can look at the Mona Lisa for three seconds, for three days if you so wish, but if you are a film director in control of time, the director takes the viewing space away from the viewer. So if I show you the face of a beautiful woman, itís up to me to allow you to see that face in my time frame not your time frame. So the new media gives us an opportunity to share backwards and forwards, so that I can show you a cup from any particular angle, I can show it full of poison, blood, cold-steam. Thereís a way in which the organisation now of the time frame has been extraordinarily blown open in a way which all the great filmmakers could never have. I can now share film moving image time in ways which could never be done before, and those potentials I want to be able somehow to utilize in this project."

 

Manifesto

"Well I think there is so much information, has I think we have already intimated, that not all of it will be able to be contained within the six hour period of three times two hour feature films. There have been precedents of course in cinema history, I'm thinking of Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, which has two manifestations; Fassbinder also had an attempt; I suppose you even could talk about David Lynch's Twin Peaks. There are ways and means in which manifestations can happen, contain the same information, but reorganise in a different way for a different audience perception."

 

Fascination

"So I hope in this project to give you excitement, to give you fascination, but also to talk very seriously about ideas of moving picture language."

 

 

Intervals

H is for House

Windows

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

Darwin

The Baby of M‚con

Lumiere & Company

The Pillow Book

8 1/2 Women

The Death of a Composer

The European Showerbath

Nightwatching

Tulse Luper

Biography

92 Lists

92 Numbers

Posters

Quotes

Stories

Guestbook

Board

Links

DVDs

Polls

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