Friday, December 11, 2009

A Zed and Two Noughts

A Zed and Two Noughts is a rare case where a film is clearly the product of personal obsessions but still somehow not unique. A picture that seems to be connected, both in style and content, to David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (and, in fact, Peter Greenaway does claim that Dead Ringers was primarily based on his film), Z00 is strange, briefly unique (for a few years, at least) and oddly compelling.

The story is about Oswald and Oliver Bruce, played by Brian and Eric Deacon. The two brothers share much in common, both being biologists working for the same zoo. They also both lose their wives in a car accident involving a swan. In the process of grieving, they become obsessed with death and decay (we get to see several time lapsed sequences of decaying animals to underscore this), and fall in love with the amputee who survived the accident, played by Andrea Ferreol. As the events transpire, they get closer together, both literally and figuratively.

It's a fascinating picture, and unrelentingly weird. The contrast between evolution and decay, and people coming together and falling apart is well done, and certainly fascinating. The contrasts and relationships between characters and their physical bodies, along with everyone's continued dissatisfaction with the world and the pieces of it is a fascination.

Another interesting piece of the picture is the way Peter Greenaway commands the framing of scenes. There's an uncomfortable symmetry in scenes - which also mirrors the themes within the film - and his framing is not only beautiful and striking but also reflect on the themes of the film itself. Michael Nyman's score is another essential piece of the puzzle, since it creates a certain feeling of unease to an already singularly creepy film. Never before has the Teddy Bear's Picnic been so ominous.

I'm not sure what it was in the 80s that created a need for stories about the madness and interdependency of twins, but the brief existence of the sub-genre created the two most uncomfortable and odd films I have ever seen, both wildly original and decidedly nontraditional in both content and form. It's a film that makes one think, both about how films are made and the various themes the director is swinging towards. It's unapologetically odd, but I like it that way.

Also, a film from the 80s with decent film stock. Wow!


  1. This does sound like an interesting film. It is indeed rare to find a film from the 80's with a great soundtrack. The only example I can think of is "Eat The Rich" which has all Motörhead songs for a soundtrack (one of my favorite films, as well). Though I will say it's got the crappy 80's film stock, but really that's the least of its problems, being a B movie and all.

    Also, I really hate to nitpick, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me. In the same paragraph, you said "(Z00) is a rare case where a film is the product of personal obsessions but still somehow *not unique*" and "Z00 is strange, *unique*, and oddly compelling."

  2. Oh, you caught me mid edit, as I forgot that sentence as I remembered Dead Ringers. I fix now, yes?