48 HOURS : You've made several films on the lives of painters and composers. Do you think your new film Eisenstein in Guanajuato — about the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein - gives you a new perspective on things? Peter Greenaway : Over the years, I've got closer and closer to what I myself am doing. For a long time, it was considered very incestuous for a filmmaker to make a film about filmmaking. There have been some good ones — I suppose the most celebrated one would be [Federico] Fellini's 8½ — but I also believe cinema is dying very, very quickly, and it's a good idea to celebrate the greatest film director ever. I notice that a sequel to Eisenstein in Guanajuato is already in the works. We're going to make a trilogy and probably call it "Eisenstein Abroad". There are two more films to come: Eisenstein in Hollywood is about him in Hollywood, and Eisenstein in Switzerland is when he attended the first film festival ever in a place called La Sarraz. It's to examine the reason why he changed from being a filmmaker who made films about grand ideas and groups of people, to one who made cinema about personalities and people with emotional reactions. Was Eisenstein your most important influence? Well, yes, partly because he's pursuing cinema in the 1920s — the silent time before sound. I think the really great days of cinema were probably from 1924 to 1929, because once you got sound cinema it changed everything. It's quite a sad thought that cinema has been going downhill for almost a century. I think so, yes. Cinema now is simply illustrating bedtime stories for adults. Do you go to the cinema? No, I find cinema far too boring. I would much rather go and see a painting exhibition any day. I remember an Italian journalist asked me once, "Why is it, Mr Greenaway, that you started life as a painter and you're now a filmmaker?". And I said somewhat glibly, "I was always disappointed that paintings did not have soundtracks". But I think that's a somewhat facetious answer. The possibilities of cinema are absolutely extraordinary; I just don't think the filmmakers realise. Are you getting any closer to those possibilities? No, the public would never, ever look at the sort of films I really want to make. So I've got to be able not to commit cinematic suicide. In a way, I've gone halfway to the audiences — to have a story, for example. Often, my stories are incredibly simple and rudimentary. I'm not against literature by all means, and I'm not against narrativity, but I don't think they belong in cinema. Wouldn't it be better for you to do what you really want to do as video art projects for exhibitions? Well, I'm doing it all the time. But you know, the public generally needs educating. The public needs to get away from this habit-forming, comfort-zone phenomenon like the notion of narrative. Narrative doesn't exist, it's like a frame. Nowhere in nature would you see a frame. It's an absurdity. It's a manmade convention. How many projects are you working on at the moment? About 30, I think. They're all at different stages of production. I'm preparing a new film about the 20th-century sculptor [Constantin] Brancusi, called Walking to Paris ; I'm remaking Death in Venice ; I'm making two more films about Eisenstein; I'm making a film about the painter Oskar Kokoschka; I'm going to make a Japanese ghost story, which we hope to be shooting next year in Kyoto; and I can bore you by going on and on and on. How many films do you still have in you? I am 73 years old; I don't think anybody really makes anything significant after about 80. So I have considered the possibility of committing suicide by euthanasia on my 80th birthday. To answer your question, I have seven more years. To finish 30 projects? I've got to see if I can do as many as I can — and I'm sure next month, there'll be another new project.