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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover [DVD] [1989]

Price: £4.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover [DVD] [1989] + The Draughtsman's Contract [1982] [DVD] + Nightwatching [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard, Tim Roth
  • Directors: Peter Greenaway
  • Writers: Peter Greenaway
  • Producers: Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Denis Wigman, Kees Kasander, Pascale Dauman
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian
  • Dubbed: German, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: None
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Nov 2003
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000UM0NU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,603 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Peter Greenaway directs this culinary tale of passion and revenge. An arrogant gangster (Michael Gambon) invests in a popular French restaurant, which he begins to frequent with his wife (Helen Mirren) and a band of crooks. He delights in humiliating his spouse, and, when she begins an affair with another patron (Alan Howard), the restaurant's cook (Richard Bohringer) tries to protect them from her husband's wrath.


The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is both adored and detested for its combination of sumptuous beauty and revolting decadence. Few directors polarise audiences in the same way as Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker as influenced by Jacobean revenge tragedy and 17th-century painting as by the French New Wave. A vile, gluttonous thief (Michael Gambon) spews hate and abuse at a restaurant run by a stoic French cook (Richard Bohringer), but under the thief's nose his wife (the ever-sensuous Helen Mirren) conducts an affair with a bookish lover (Alan Howard). Clothing (by avant-garde designer Jean-Paul Gaultier) changes colour as the characters move from room to room. Nudity, torture, rotting meat, and Tim Roth at his sleaziest all contribute the atmosphere of decay and excess. Not for everyone, but for some, essential. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb 2005
Format: DVD
Just read the other reviews and you will get a feel for just how good this film is, but why on earth has the transfer to DVD been done in such a botched manner?
The opening titles illustrate the problem that persists throughout.
The orinigal wide screen presentation has been cropped such that the titles are incomplete.
Within the body of the film one is frequently left watching an empty centre of the original with the speaking characters somewhere off screen.
This brilliant film deserves much better treatment.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Touring Mars VINE VOICE on 20 Jan 2004
Format: DVD
Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, The Thief..." is part black comedy and part surreal drama starring the brilliant Michael Gambon and Helen Mirren. As lush and darkly beautiful as some of his other work (Prospero's Books, Drowning By Numbers), "The Cook, The Thief..." has the huge advantage of being a highly watchable film because Greenaway creates a dramatic story that engages you with characters alot more than in some of his other work. The film looks and sounds great throughout, with the keen eye of Sacha Vierny and the surreal touches from Greenaway that bring each scene to life.
Once again, Greenaway has used the music of Michael Nyman to add a whole new dimension to the film. Indeed, Nyman never 'scored' any Greenaway films... the process was infact the other way around, with Greenaway choreographing his scenes to fit with Nyman's music. This film is by far and away the best example of this, and the result is superb. Incorporating some of Nyman's best music, the musical centrepiece of the film is Nyman's 'Memorial', and epic funeral march-like piece, originally composed as a memorial to the victims of the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985.
As well as some great costumes (by Jean Paul Gaultier), set designs and brilliant acting (esp. by Gambon), this film boasts some great dark humour, as well as it's fair share of geniune nastiness. Gambon plays the abominable Albert Spica, a grotesque and vulgar man who abuses and humiliates his wife (Mirren), who seeks refuge with another man, only for Spica to turn his wretched attentions to him, with terrible consequences (can't say any more without giving the end away!)
As a piece of film-making, it's a masterpiece. As a nice cosy film you can sit down to watch on a rainy weekend over and over again, forget it! But for Greenaway's talent, Gambon's acting, Nyman's music, Gaultier's costumes and Sacha Vierny's cinematographic excellence, how many more reasons do you need to go out and buy this film? Great stuff!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Nov 2013
Format: DVD
This 1989 film written and directed by British film-maker Peter Greenaway remains an original (and mostly stunning) piece of work, now re-viewing it (nearly) 25 years on. I must admit, re-watching, I was not quite so blown away as I was on first seeing the film on its release - Michael Gambon's bravura, but obviously unlikeable, turn as the obscene, cruel and violent 'Thief' (and restaurant owner) of the title, Albert Spica, becoming a little too grating over the course of the film's two hours. However, what remains undeniably impressive is the film's design, basically a theatrical set of sprawling, open-plan restaurant, with brief glimpses of a dystopian (roaming stray dogs, etc) exterior world, courtesy of Ben van Os and Jan Roelfs, with some superb cinematography (blacks, reds, whites) by Sacha Vierny. And to cap it all, we have another mesmerising soundtrack from (for me) the UK's finest film composer (certainly of recent decades), Michael Nyman.

Given the film's subject matter, essentially taking the fusion of food and sex (established in the likes of Tony Richardson's 1963 film Tom Jones) to the next level of debauchery and savagery, I was also surprised to see the (normally rather more staid) Universal logo come up at the film's start. Thereafter, Greenaway's tale of Albert's cruel husband (plus his gang of henchmen), his violent treatment of wife Georgina (the voluptuous Helen Mirren) and her romantic liaisons (frantic couplings in the restaurant lavatory and kitchen) with Alan Howard's calm, literary intellectual, Michael, is totally uncompromising and visceral, but interspersed with bouts of dark humour.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Cartimand TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Feb 2006
Format: DVD
**some spoilers**

Greenaway's astonishing masterpiece is packed so full of sumptuously profound imagery and metaphor that it can be enjoyed on several levels. Just go with the flow and enjoy this grotesquely compelling tale of sadism, decadence, illicit love, and jaw-droppingly gruesome retribution, or feel free to explore Greenaway's deeper intentions in giving us such cleverly colour-coded debauchery and stunning juxtaposition.

The hideous Spica (Gambon) - an unholy cross between a Falstaffian trencherman and a vicious gangland thug, wields absolute power in the crimson opulence of the dining area. Like some sacrilegious parody of Christ's last supper, Spica sits centre-table surrounded by a host of well-loved British characters. Look! Isn't that Trigger from Only Fools and Horses (Roger Lloyd-Pack) and there's grandma Royle (Liz Park). Even the late great Ian Dury is in there trying to do wicked things with his rhythm stick, and Gary Olsen, sadly lamented by his 2.4 children. But oh boy, is that /really/ (Dame!) Helen Mirren doing all those naughty things virtually under her abusive husband's nose?

Leaving the blood-red velvet of the dining room, we are swept to the pristine white, almost paradisiacal appearance of the lavatories. Here, the earthiest and most explicit sex acts take place between the furtive lovers (Mirren and Alan Howard), reminding us of one of Spica's diatribes, when he comments on the proximity of the organs of defecation and reproduction. A brutal flash of crimson intrudes upon the white, when Spica bursts in. Seeking refuge elsewhere, the lovers enjoy moments of passion in rooms surrounding the astonishing kitchen, making love amongst hanging game birds and pigs' heads, whilst the albino choir-boy's innocently beautiful voice soars above all.
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