Australasian Cinema > films >


Man of Flowers

Man of Flowers (Paul Cox, 1983) prod. Jane Ballantyne, Paul Cox for Flowers International, wr. Paul Cox, Bob Ellis, dp Yuri Sokol, design Asher Bilu, costume Lirit Bilu, ed. Tim Lewis, music Gaetano Donizetti; Norman Kaye (AFI Best Actor), Alyson Best, Chris Haywood, Sarah Walker, Julia Blake, Bob Ellis, Barry Dickins, Patrick Cook, Victoria Eagger, Werner Herzog, Juliet Bacskal, Marianne Baillieu, Lirit Bilu, Hilary Kelly, Dawn Klingberg, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, James Stratford, Sarah Walker; Fuji colour, 35mm, 91 min.

This is the best of the Australian 'art' films, in all the meanings of the term.

Stratton 1990:
Many think Man of Flowers is Cox's best film; it is certainly an extrordinary combination of pain and humour, sex and death, poetry and magic. ... an extrordinary achievement, and shows, once again, just what can be done on a tiny budget when the people involved are both dedicated and talented. ... Outrageous, funny, erotic, sad, 'elegantly kinky' (as film critic Molly Haskell described it in Vogue): no wonder Man of Flowers was such a success. Stratton 1990: 124, 126

Paul Cox:
I felt my life was changing, and all my childhood memories came to the fore, all the suppression I'd gone through. I was determined to make this film. I wrote the story in two days, gathered people around me—even my lawyer, who's normally very strict, put money into it. I found an office, put up a sign, connected the phone, and said I was in pre-production: but, actually we had no money at all. Paul Cox, as quoted in Stratton: 124.

References and Links

See also: art films list, chapter on art films in Ten Types of Australian Film.

Wikipedia page

IMDb page

Research assignment by Maria Racioppo, 2007

Notes written while watching film

Scene 1 titles
Charles (Norman Kaye) at organ turns to regard naked woman
2 Lisa (Alyson Best) leaves building in poor area, picked up in Jag
3 Lisa takes off clothes to same Donizetti music from opera from credits
Charles plays organ in church
4 David (Chris Haywood) in studio - abuses Lisa
Charles writes messy letter to mother, wants money
5 painting class
Charles sees vegetation on naked Lisa
Julia Blake (art teacher) has accent and limp
6 David and Lisa after class
7 Charles in bath on phone
flowers as sensually arousing
8 Lisa and David
8a postman (Barry Dickins)
9 two lesbians
10 Charles in flower shop
11 jigsaw
12 flashback:
young Charles (James Stratford) with mother (Hilary Kelly) and father (Werner Herzog)
13 Charles assembling something
14 copper shop man (Patrick Cook) suggest encasing in bronze - after embalming
14 Charles meets Lisa
16 David snorting coke
17 after strip, Lia suggests therapy
photo of mother
18 flashback: young Charles sees his mother naked
19 flashback: trees, mother
20 Ch playing organ; can't get phrase right
see sculpture
looks around
touches sculpture
22 chimney - letter - sorting photos
23 swimming pools - garden
24 Lisa and David in bed
25 Ch in garden
26 pub - bessers (?)
27 Ch in garden - children - statue
28 Ch's house - two lesbians - see the wall - inside - Ch comes home
Lisa explains the Donizetti thing
29 sees them - he is playing discordant music
guy comes in - "no problem"
30 car - rain - "things" - "forgive me ... stay with you ... good man"
31 flashback: young Ch puts hand in woman's large bosom
(Donizetti playing non-diegetically)
young Ch fires slingshot, makes hole in window, father looks through it, pulls young Ch along by ear
32 Ch awakes in bed
33 postman arrives - duck - thoughts
34 back to location #2 - Lisa is leaving
35 David 'painting' in abstract expressionism style, like Jackson Pollock
36 Lisa not taking clothes off
37 flashback: young Ch and young mother
38 two lesbians in bed
39 Ch pressing flowers - dome - swimming pool - posts letter (to mother) - plays organ
40 pool - with sculpture - grotto - music track - Donizetti
41 Ch can't play organ (Kaye over-acting)
42 home - invasion
43 art school - Lisa asks for $1500
44 Ch holding wall niche things - fires thingy
psychiatrist (Bob Ellis): "Don't you ever dream about fish?"
psycho session
46 notice on door - from David
47 David's workshop
48 Mrs Munch has crushed a flower
pool - with koi
voice-over: "little flower" etc. - posts letter
49 pool - two lesbians
house - "touch each other"
50 sea - pier - Donizetti - beach - Lisa
51 chn bedroom - "this weekend"
52 flowers
flashback: young Ch follows naked back
53 sky b/w - Ch in pool
54 church - organ
garden - David smoking
55 Charles's house - large painting - flowers!
56 David arrive at Ch's house - goes around the back - there is a shot
57 organ
58 copper shop
59 garden - collecting bits, puts them in wall
60 path - walk - statue!
61 flashback: nose etc.
62 last scene - Ch walks up hill - three figures - gulls - sky - 4th figure - Donizetti - fade
Credits (incl. Montserrat Caballe, Jose Carreras, [Nino] Gaetano Marinetti camera operator)

Garry Gillard | New: 29 October, 2012 | Now: 5 June, 2022