Eisenstein in Guanajuato: Greenaway on the Russian Master’s Homosexuality

Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato had its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Berlin Film Fest.

Bold and sporadically provocative, Eisenstein in Guanajuato suffers from a speculative, not too deep narrative. Greenaway has made a post-modern feature that is more salacious than revelatory, and it includes some events and facts that historians may find dubious, if not inaccurate.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Eisenstein in Guanajuato.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Film about Sergei Eisenstein

I’ve been studying Eisenstein all my life. I have investigated who he was, watched all his films, read everything he’d probably ever written, visited his library and been to places where he has filmed. I’ve started making movies about great visualist who I admire. I’m interested in creators and how they create.

Focus on Eisenstein in Mexico

I’d been travelling to Mexico on and off and went to this town called Guanajuato, which is extremely beautiful. Eisenstein had visited the town, because it has a celebrated museum of the dead. While he was there he had a Mexican guide, and they had a love affair. So we put all this together in this film about this great man I’ve admired for a long time, one of the very few innovators in cinema.

Second Eisenstein film?

It is called “The Swiss Hoax” because he was supposed to have made a film in Switzerland called “Storm over La Sarraz,” which relates to the issue of whether film is an art or an industry. This film has completely disappeared so I want to make a film about a non-film and we are going to explore whether it was made or it wasn’t made.

Russian funding for that film?

We got ourselves into a bit of trouble about this. The homophobic Russians have understood that we are discussing Eisenstein’s love affair with a young man in Mexico and they are up in arms saying they certainly don’t want to be seen supporting a Greenaway film which discusses Eisenstein’s homosexuality.

Cinema is dying?

Only 5 percent of people watch Hollywood films in cinemas. Are they really making films anymore? The old idea of narrative cinema–the “Casablanca” syndrome–is not really with us anymore. Most people would now use the screen for social media practices. Cinema is going through a sea change. The old vocabularies are rapidly dying.


Directed by Peter Greenaway
Produced by Bruno Felix, San Fu Maltha, Cristina Velasco, Femke Wolting

Written by Peter Greenaway
Cinematography Reinier van Brummelen
Edited by Elmer Leupen

Running time: 105 minutes