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A Zed and Two Noughts (1985)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 4,563

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Movie Info

This twisted black comedy is obsessed in turn with swans, twins, and decay. Alba Bewick (Andréa Ferréol) is involved in a swan-related car accident near the zoo. The accident kills two other women, the wives of two twin zoologists, Oliver and Oswald Deuce (Brian and Eric Deacon). Alba is lucky enough to escape with one leg. Eventually her doctor also removes the other "because it was dangerous for the spine." Meanwhile, the Deuce brothers, as a result of losing their wives, have become


Drama, Comedy, Special Interest

Nov 23, 1999

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All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (4) | DVD (10)

An enjoyably decadent, ridiculously convoluted thingamajig.

July 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite overkill in the ideas department, which many will find too pretentious for comfort or coherence, visually, Zed is a masterpiece.

September 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

liked this better the second time around, but it's still not one of my favorite Greenaways.

February 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

None of Greenaway's films take place in anything resembling naturalism or realism, and they don't feel modern. They're like archaic storybook adaptations of Jacobean plays illustrated by Vermeer.

January 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Enjoyable as a work of perversion.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Greenaway when he was still hungry.

March 13, 2006

Another exercise in cataloguing, another elaborate death ritual, and another story inhabited with fixation

January 25, 2006 Full Review

As fascinating and exciting as the images are, however, the drama is ridiculous as all get out.

November 6, 2004

It's frustratingly interesting for the director's self-indulgences ...

February 21, 2004 Full Review Source:

Greenaway's eccentric exploration of where all life's absurd varieties must begin and end is, like a road accident, always fascinating, if not exactly pleasurable, to watch.

February 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Gazette

Fatally pretentious crap. (But it's fun to say if you're a Renaissance Faire warrior whose costume never comes off.)

January 26, 2004 | Comments (2)
Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)

A great film which can be explored on multiple levels.

August 22, 2003 | Comment (1)
Pasadena Weekly

You want to look away, but it's so perversely fascinating that you can't bring yourself to. That is both its brilliance and the reason it should be approached with caution.

January 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for A Zed and Two Noughts

A delightfully perverse film. I'm sure that I will never see a better movie fixated on amputation and rotting carrion.

As with most Peter Greenaway films, the stylized cinematography, lighting and sets are a marvel. Greenaway is more like a Renaissance painter than a director, and his longtime collaborator Michael Nyman delivers another stirring, processional score which perfectly accents all the slow tracking shots.

Real-life twins play two zoologists whose wives are killed in a traffic accident after an escaped swan flies into their car and causes the driver, one Alba Bewick, to lose control. Alba survives, but her leg is amputated. She seems to *enjoy* this new handicap and cheerfully reclines in bed, flaunting her lingerie-clad body to multiple visitors. Meanwhile, the widowed twins become obsessed with post-mortem decay, and begin time-lapse photographing a variety of dead subjects. Gradually, they advance to more and more complex organisms. A few other side plots sneak into the story, including Alba's dalliance with another amputee who's missing *both* legs.

Greenaway's usual feast of sex and full frontal nudity is on ample display, and every female character seems to be a whore at heart. If this offends you, you've probably wandered into the wrong film by mistake.

If it's not obvious, the title elaborates the spelling of "Z-O-O." I wonder if David Cronenberg saw this movie, prior to writing "Dead Ringers"?
February 17, 2010
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Peter Greenaway, "A Zed and Two Noughts" is about two zoologist brothers, Oswald(Brian Deacon) and Oliver(Eric Deacon) Deuce, who both lose their wives in a tragic freak auto accident.(A swan was somehow involved.) In that same moment, they gain a friend in Alba Bewick(Andrea Ferreol, who seems to be game for anything) who survived the same accident but had to have one of her legs amputated.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Since "A Zed and Two Noughts" is also about zoology, then how should the films of Peter Greenaway be classified? Well, generally they(and I have not seen either "Prospero's Books" or "Belly of an Architect") are about either art or obsession combined with sex. Like with "Drowning by Numbers," this one is also on the obsession side of the ledger, as the brothers become obsessed with death and decay, as they film the decomposition of animals using stop-motion photography. But in this way, the movie is also about immortality as the brothers' films are probably meant for somebody to watch them in the future. Along the same lines, Alba's breeding is a way for a part of her to survive after she dies and a prostitute, Venus de Milo(Frances Barber), has the same thought but goes the publishing route.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]So you can see, there is some intelligent thought going on but that does not always equate to excellence in filmmaking. Whereas he is incapable of making an uninteresting movie, only two of Greenaway's are anything special - "Drowning by Numbers" and "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover"(Jane Campion has a similar track record.) and "A Zed and Two Noughts" is another perplexing near miss. The problem here is that none of the emotions are recognizably human. And a reliance on long shots perhaps meant to simulate watching animals in a zoo just serves to alienate the viewer.[/font]
September 5, 2008
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

My first foray into the work of Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker I have heard much about, and have wanted to get into for awhile, but just never got around to it until now. I was definently not disappointed with my first exposure to him. This film definently has high replay value, as I imagine new layers will show themselves upon repeated viewings. I'll start by saying that visually this movie is flawless. A feast for the eyes if there ever was one. The sets are meticulous. The film is overflowing with symbolism and metaphor. Even the costumes look like they were carefully selected to contribute to the overall feeling of the film. This isn't a case of style over substance either though. This film is dense in it's ideas and how it chooses to get those idea's across. There are a lot of recurring themes here (Grief, Decay, Loss, Rarities etc). So dense that I'm not going to try and explain what I think it all is supposed to mean, especially after first watch. I definently will be revisiting this movie again and again though, and I look forward to seeing more of Greenaway's work in the future. A must see if you enjoy Art House, Dark comedy, the bizarre and so on.
October 11, 2011
Ed Fucking Harris

Super Reviewer

Too many weird naked men...I don't know about my teacher's taste in movies anymore.
February 21, 2009
Jared H

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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Foreign Titles

  • Ein Z und zwei Nullen (DE)
  • Z.O.O. (FR)
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