Rembrandt’s J’Accuse

34 Murderous Hypotheses For Rembrandt's Nightwatch

J’Accuse is an essayistic film in which Greenaway’s fierce criticism of today’s visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the background, the context, the conspiracy, the murder and the motives of all its 34 painted characters who have conspired to kill for their combined self-advantage. Greenaway leads us through Rembrandt’s paintings into 17th century Amsterdam. He paints a world that is democratic in principle, but is almost entirely ruled by twelve families. The notion exists of these regents as charitable and compassionate beings. But reality was different. Greenaway points out to the viewer all sorts of ‘evidence’ that can be found in the Nightwatch, but which no one ever noticed before. Just as in the acclaimed American show CSI, Greenaway knows how to make the evidence for the murder credible by basing his line of questioning on the facts: historical sources, comparisons with other works of art that contain a secret message and mainly by highlighting numerous details in the painting that were never noticed before or that were simply not correctly interpreted.

The film explains how and why The Nightwatch, Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, is a criticism of Amsterdam’s oligarchy and plutocracy of the Golden Age, a demonstration of the manipulative power of the visual image, and an indictment, which puts all the characters involved in a complex and devious conspiracy to murder. Greenaway himself plays the part of the public prosecutor, but is at the same time himself. In his 21st Century clothes he will interrogate characters from the movie Nightwatching, dressed in historical costumes on their part in the murder conspiracy.

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Directed and written by: Peter Greenaway
Producer: Submarine
Co-producers: Kasander/ VPRO/ WDR/ARTE France/ YLE
Release: 2008
Length: 86 min/ 100 min
Sales Agent: Content Film International,


Direction and scenario: Peter Greenaway
Producers: Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix
Cowriter: Stefanie de Brouwer
Director of photography: Reinier van Brummelen
Unit manager: Saskia van der Tas
amera assistant: Nina da Costa, Corian van Berkel de Cloe
Gaffer: Chris Hacken
Key grip: Cees Aloserij
Grip: Frans Leiwakabessy
Flighthead operator: Igor Teljukov
Electricians: Rene Haan, Dave van Hunschoten, Marius Speller, Tinus Dam, Erik Wopma, Martijn van Kalleveen, Tessa van den Beukel
Sound mixer: Bram Boers
Sound assistant: Sophie Determeyer, Akko Venema, Frank Neuhaus
Production Designer: Maarten Piersma
Production art department: Eljo Embregts
Set builders: Rob Duiker, Dennis Los, Roman van der Molen, Ernst Paradies, Anouk Pool, Kees Bierma, Odin de Kroon
Costume Designer: Marrit van der Burgt
Wardrobe Assistant: Karen de Meijer
Make-up:    Sara Meerman, Bernadette Hilhorst
Still photgrapher: Victor Arnolds
Editor: Elmer Leupen
Additional editor: Irma de Vries
Sounddesign & mixage: Boon & Booy
Music: Giovanni Sollima, Marco Robino
Irma de Vries
Color grading: tbc
Film scanning: Filmmore
Line Producers: Willeke Steenbeeke, Janneke van de Kerkhof
Production manager:  Ada Goossens
Head of production at Kasander: Lisette Kelder
Picture researcher: Tjitske Boogmans
Publicity: Yaniv Wolf
Post production coordinator: Jochem van Rijs
Location manager: Kees Brouwer
Production assistants: Bert Jan Hendriks, Susan de Graaf, Lennart Barewijk
Assistant to Mr. Greenaway: Marita Ruyter
Precision driver: Michel Struik
Facilities insurance: WE Insure Verzekeringen
Camera equipment: Cam-a-lot
Light equipment: Singel Film
Flighthead: Filmotech
Catering: De Drie Gezusters, Anne & Mo Verlaan
International sales: Content Film International
Head of film library sales:   Toby Melling
Marketing manger: Rebecca Berry
Benelux distribution: Video-Film Express
Commissioning editor Arte France:  Christoph Jörg
Commissioning editor VPRO: Saskia van Schaik
Commissioning editor WDR: Jutta Krug
Commissioning editor YLE: Outi Saarikoski
Co-producer: Kees Kasander

This production was supported by
A contribution of the Netherlands Matching Fund, The Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund, CoBo Fund, Thuiskopie Fonds

Produced by Submarine in co-production with / VPRO / WDR / YLE
in association with Arte France

© 2008 Submarine / VPRO / WDR / YLE