Made for TV and the French Bicentennial celebrations, this is an extreme case of Peter Greenaway's obsession with cataloguing and classification. Comprising 23 case histories of corpses fished out of the Seine between 1795 and 1801, it forms a kind of micro-reprise of his monumental The Falls, piling up its narratives, Holmesian speculations and slow, clinical tracking shots over corpses, in a rigidly uniform structure. But within this forbidding system, Greenaway breaks up the frame, much as in Prospero's Books, using Paintbox graphics to play on the comparative textures of television and paper. Death in the Seine is a pedantic film, because it's about pedantry and the systematic collecting of facts which might or might not constitute evidence. It wasn't taken up by British TV, which considering the film's sign-off comments about the transience of memory and recorded knowledge, is a rather sour irony.
Cast and crew
Jim van der Woude