Cynara: Poetry in Motion

40m 1982

TRAILER

Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist, is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends much further than either the purse or the sketchpad. The sketches themselves prove of an even greater significance than supposed upon the discovery of the body of Mr. Herbert.","__typename":"Markdown"},"author":"Paul Kevin Harm ","__typename":"Plot"},"__typename":"PlotEdge"}],"__typename":"PlotConnection"},"outlines":{"edges":[{"node":{"plotText":{"plaidHtml":"A young artist is commissioned by the wife of a wealthy landowner to make a series of drawings of the estate while her husband is away.","__typename":"Markdown"},"__typename":"Plot"},"__typename":"PlotEdge"}],"__typename":"PlotConnection"},"synopses":{"edges":[{"node":{"plotText":{"plaidHtml":"England, 1694. Mrs Herbert (Janet Suzman) and her daughter Mrs Talmann (Anne-Louise Lambert) try to persuade Mr Neville (Anthony Higgins), an artist, to make a series of drawings of Mr and Mrs Herbert's house and estate. Mr Neville finally agrees when Mrs Herbert offers, in addition to paying for each drawing and giving him room and board while he draws, to sleep with him. (Oddly, she makes this offer in the presence of her husband's agent, Mr Noyes (Neil Cunningham), who is drawing up the contract.) Mrs Herbert intends the drawings to be a gift to her obnoxious and estranged husband, who dotes on his property and who is conveniently planning to be away from home while the drawings are created.

Mr Neville inconveniences the entire household with detailed and stringent requirements for his 12 drawings. For specified periods every day, the views he has chosen must be kept clear of carriages, animals, smoking chimneys, and people -- except for the one that requires Mr Talmann (Hugh Fraser) to stand still and wear the same clothes for several days running.

The atmosphere of the film is chilly; there's little indication that any of the characters like one another, and many of them are fairly hostile. Starting over the issue of Mr Talmann's wardrobe, Mr Talmann and Mr Neville snipe at one another continuously. Mr and Mrs Talmann have a bitter confrontation. It's hard to tell what the exaggerated costumes are meant to contribute: comically tall headpieces for the women, and for the men, very long, curly wigs -- waist-length, in some cases -- which, along with full-skirted coats, make them look like Edwardian schoolgirls.

Mrs Herbert is distressed by the sexual part of her agreement and tries to break the contract; Mr Neville refuses. Mrs Talmann makes her own bargain for sexual favors with Mr Neville (which doesn't affect her mother's). Later, we learn that Mr Talmann is impotent -- and also that Mr Herbert doesn't believe that women should own property, so the inheritance of the estate depends on Mrs Talmann producing a son.

Mr Herbert's injured horse turns up, and shortly thereafter his body is found in the moat. Mr Noyes, the agent, who as a young man wanted to marry Mrs Herbert, comes to her demanding assistance because he believes he will be suspected of murdering Mr Herbert. Mrs Herbert shows no interest in helping him, so Mr Noyes blackmails her: if she doesn't give him the drawings (why does he want the drawings?), he'll make the draughtsman's contract public, exposing her as an adulteress.

Mrs Talmann observes that many of the drawings include objects that have no business being where they are: a ladder leading to Mrs Talmann's bedroom window; a pair of boots belonging to her husband; and several items of clothing belonging to Mr Herbert. Mrs Talmann implies that Mr Neville is planting clues related to the demise of Mr Herbert. But Mr Neville is clearly drawing what he sees, and we have no evidence that he's responsible for the presence of any of the misplaced objects.

An odd feature of the landscape is a moving statue (Michael Feast), which turns up twined with vines against a wall, on the roof while Mrs Herbert and her guests are eating an outdoor meal in the foreground, and on a pedestal from which it first removes an obelisk.

Having completed his contract and gone away, Mr Neville comes back for a visit. Mrs Herbert offers him one more tryst in exchange for one more drawing, and he agrees. He completes a view of an equestrian statue in the garden, though he draws the horse without its rider. It's not apparent whether this is because he can't see the rider -- the moving statue may not be visible to everyone -- or because Mr Neville is alluding to the death of Mr Herbert.

Although his drawing is done, Mr Neville continues to sit by the statue. As it grows dark, he's surrounded by a group of masked gentlemen, most of whom are recognizable as members of the Herbert household or their friends. The gentlemen taunt Neville, put his eyes out with a torch, kill him, and throw his body in the moat. If their motivation is related to Mr Herbert's murder, they don't mention it. They burn all the drawings.","__typename":"Markdown"},"__typename":"Plot"},"__typename":"PlotEdge"}],"__typename":"PlotConnection"},"storylineKeywords":{"edges":[{"node":{"legacyId":"sex-scene","text":"sex scene","__typename":"TitleKeyword"},"__typename":"TitleKeywordEdge"},{"node":{"legacyId":"deception","text":"deception","__typename":"TitleKeyword"},"__typename":"TitleKeywordEdge"},{"node":{"legacyId":"england","text":"england","__typename":"TitleKeyword"},"__typename":"TitleKeywordEdge"},{"node":{"legacyId":"artistic-creation","text":"artistic creation","__typename":"TitleKeyword"},"__typename":"TitleKeywordEdge"},{"node":{"legacyId":"period-drama","text":"period drama","__typename":"TitleKeyword"},"__typename":"TitleKeywordEdge"}],"total":85,"__typename":"TitleKeywordConnection"},"taglines":{"edges":[{"node":{"text":"A landscape of lust and cunning. [Video Australia]","__typename":"Tagline"},"__typename":"TaglineEdge"}],"total":1,"__typename":"TaglineConnection"},"genres":{"genres":[{"id":"Comedy","text":"Comedy","__typename":"Genre"},{"id":"Drama","text":"Drama","__typename":"Genre"},{"id":"Mystery","text":"Mystery","__typename":"Genre"}],"__typename":"Genres"},"certificate":{"rating":"R","ratingReason":null,"ratingsBody":null,"__typename":"Certificate"},"parentsGuide":{"guideItems":{"total":9,"__typename":"ParentsGuideConnection"},"__typename":"ParentsGuide"},"triviaTotal":{"total":22,"__typename":"TriviaConnection"},"trivia":{"edges":[{"node":{"text":{"plaidHtml":"The movie was originally inspired by Peter Greenaway's attempts to draw a house he'd rented for a vacation and finding that the sun rising/falling changed the shadows and appearance too rapidly for a drawing to be completed in one sitting. He thus spent a specific period each day drawing the house from a specific angle (like the draughtsman in the movie).","__typename":"Markdown"},"trademark":null,"relatedNames":null,"__typename":"TitleTrivia"},"__typename":"TriviaEdge"}],"__typename":"TriviaConnection"},"goofsTotal":{"total":1,"__typename":"GoofConnection"},"goofs":{"edges":[{"node":{"text":{"plaidHtml":"The cooing of a collared dove is not a sound that would have fallen on Jacobean ears, as the species was unknown in Britain until 1955.","__typename":"Markdown"},"__typename":"Goof"},"__typename":"GoofEdge"}],"__typename":"GoofConnection"},"quotesTotal":{"total":23,"__typename":"TitleQuoteConnection"},"quotes":{"edges":[{"node":{"lines":[{"characters":[{"character":"Mr. Neville","name":{"id":"nm0001891","__typename":"Name"},"__typename":"TitleQuoteCharacter"}],"text":"You must forgive my curiosity, madam, and open your knees.","stageDirection":null,"__typename":"TitleQuoteLine"}],"__typename":"TitleQuote"},"__typename":"TitleQuoteEdge"}],"__typename":"TitleQuoteConnection"},"crazyCredits":{"edges":[],"__typename":"CrazyCreditConnection"},"alternateVersions":{"total":1,"edges":[{"node":{"text":{"plaidHtml":"When Peter Greenaway screened the movie at festivals in 1982, it ran a full three hours. 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This is an unusual film. It's a Shakespearian sex romp with a murder mystery. The style has long takes and mid to long distance visuals. The movie lost me the first time around. It can meander and the story can be mercurial. It would help a lot if the murder is shown even if the perpetrators are not. The individual clues need accompanying flashbacks to show that part of the crime. 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Two women's friendship becomes passion. Cynara, a sculptor, alone, befriends Byron, a visitor who's left Paris in unhappiness. They ride horses, talk, play chess, and exchanging tenderness. Byron inspires Cynara as she sculpts, Cynara becomes Byron's muse as she writes. Then each imagines expressing physical passion to the other, Cynara's visions in black and white, Byron's in color. Their touches remain brief. Does respectability hold them back? 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Never have I seen a story expressed through a standalone picture, so well. The narration was almost dreamy, the poems used were ecstatic especially Dowson's tormented poem for his only lost love...Cynara. The photography was beautiful and I have the feeling that being a bit blurred was the fault that made it so beautiful. A perfect one would be so unrealistic... I mean we don't watch Star Wars here, but a confounded love story. The costumes and the set were a delightful thing to watch addressing the Victorian era perfectly (one cannot argue if have read Jane Austin, Sarah Waters, or watched BBC adaptations of this era). The cinematography was intoxicating…. from where to start and where to finish. The story is as simple as you could ever imagine being. Two women meet in an ocean inn and start to share each other company… a sculptress and a writer. Both seem to be unsatisfied with their life. Cynara( the sculptress) is isolated in this place many years feeling lonely and bored and one might guess why her family sent her away( is it because of her homosexuality that her aunt knew? And was not something to talk about openly at that time). The writer was a tormented soul that was seeking peace within her (that's why she left Paris). These two characters instantly hooked. We see them enjoying playing chess, talking, walking, horseback riding in the beach. It must be noted that the horseback riding added so much value in this movie. Actually all the romance and flirting was expressed through these scenes. The fantasies that each woman had were fantastically shot. The two actresses portrayed wonderfully through their body and face expressions the transition from friendship to desire. The chemistry was so powerful and strong that one could characterize it as volcano explosions. The love making scene was utterly intoxicating and surely to say the best love scene ever filmed between two women. This short filmed movie can move free spirit minds and can even shake the quake and wake the life of conventional ones. Even if I am straight up to now because you never know in this life, I say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with love, passion and desire between women. By all means this movie is not soft porn as many claim to be…. And to be honest I enjoyed more the first 30 minutes than the love making scene. It's a pure drama romance that deserves to be watched especially from people who live for the moment. The rating is very unfair and unjust. Hopefully this movie will not apply to a specific audience as it is design to be. 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Two women's friendship becomes passion. Cynara, a sculptor, alone, befriends Byron, a visitor who's left Paris in unhappiness. They ride horses, talk, play chess, and exchanging tenderness. Byron inspires Cynara as she sculpts, Cynara becomes Byron's muse as she writes. Then each imagines expressing physical passion to the other, Cynara's visions in black and white, Byron's in color. Their touches remain brief. Does respectability hold them back? What might pull down any last barriers to their expressions of love?


Director: Nicole Conn

Genres: Drama, Romance


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