Goltzius and the Pelican Company

Goltzius and the Pelican Company
Peter Greenaway
Netherlands, United kingdom, France, Croatia
Drama, History
Peter Greenaway
F. Murray Abraham, Vincent Riotta, Halina Reijn
Kasander Film; in co-production with CDP (France), MP Film Production (Croatia)


In 1600, the Dutch engraver and printer Goltzius tells of his adventures to find finance to afford a new printing press to print illustrated books, when he travelled to Colmar in Alsace on his way to Italy in the winter of 1590. He proposed to the liberal-minded Margrave of Alsace to make two grand illustrated books, a version of the Old Testament and a version of Ovid’s Metamorphosis. To sweeten the possibility of a deal, Goltzius, with the male and female members of his printing and theatrical company, stage six dramatisations of Old Testament erotic stories, symbolising the six sexual taboos of fornication, incest, adultery, paedophilia, prostitution and necrophilia - Adam & Eve, Lot & His Daughters, David & Bathsheba, Potiphar’s Wife, Samson & Delilah, and (from the New Testament) Salome & John the Baptist.   

The frank dramatisations of these erotic stories invoke surprise, shock and controversy at the court and among the court ecclesiatics - a Roman Catholic, a Calvinist and a Jewish Rabbi  - and the erotic pleasures tempt and entice the Margrave, his family and his court to become sexually involved, which ends with the Goltzius playwright Boethius being beheaded as John the Baptist in a scandal that disgraces the Margrave, forcing him to pay for the printing press and order the commissioned books, with a suggestion that Goltzius should return to Alsace when he has finished the Old Testament commission to begin work on the second commission on Ovid, to be called Goltzius & Spranger.


Russia (16 of May 2013)