The Tulse Luper Suitcases
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Tulse Luper Suitcases is a multimedia project by Peter Greenaway, initially intended to comprise three "source" and one feature films, a 16-episode TV series, and 92 DVDs, as well as Web sites, CD-ROMs and books. Once the online Web-based portion of the project was completed: the "winner" having taken a trip following Luper's travels (and often imprisonment) during his first writings about the discovery of Uranium in Moab, Utah in 1928 to his mysterious disappearance at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The visual style of the three feature films is unorthodox, even compared to other Greenaway films. This is most likely because they were meant to provide "source material" and "background story" for the Flash-based "suitcases" and hence are not truly meant to be watched as a film with typical fashion, but more of an audio/video pastiche.
In many scenes multiple takes, different angles, or identical copies of the same footage are displayed simultaneously within the frame, either superimposed or in discrete "boxes" taking up a small part of the screen. Multiple images are typically offset in time from one another, with a corresponding delay in audio. At times, a written representation of the script also scrolls across the screen as it is performed. The overall effect is similar to that of The Pillow Book, but because these effects are largely devoted to "narrator"-type characters providing exposition, or primary characters themselves commenting on or responding to the action, the overall effect is more like a visual encyclopedia or a form of interactive media (minus the actual interaction).
The character Tulse Luper has been featured (though rarely seen) in several of Peter Greenaway's earlier film works, and in The Tulse Luper Suitcases a substantial portion of Greenaway's output is briefly presented as if it had been filmed by Luper. Other connections to previous Greenaway films include the character Cissie Colpitts, who also appeared in the 1988 feature Drowning by Numbers and the 1978 short Vertical Features Remake. Tulse Luper, like Greenaway himself, is a keeper of extensive lists and catalogues, which serve as a sort of prism through which everything is seen. The most notable instance of this in the project is a collection of 1,001 stories which parallel The Book of One Thousand and One Nights in Arabic literature. The character Martino Knockavelli makes his first appearance here as a plump Italian schoolboy.