Metamorphosis and Identity – “Cinetheatrical” Spaces in Peter Greenaway’s The Baby of Mâcon

  • Zita Turi Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary


In his interviews, Peter Greenaway infamously claims that we have never seen films, only literature or theatre put on screen. He, being a painter himself, mostly characterises his construction of film-narrative as image-centred, a position in opposition to that of traditional plot-centred movies based on verbal narration. He wanted to make a cinema of ideas and not of plots, trying to use the same aesthetics as painting, which always paid great attention to formal devices of structure and the composition of framing (Woods 18). Not only is there a competitive relationship between the plot and the visual narration, but in his films the mediums used also vary. This contributes to the multi-layered structures of his movies, which are not limited by artificially imposed boundaries, but are centred on notions such as the place and space of performance and the self-reflective nature of art. The framework of intermediality, consequently, gains crucial significance within the discourse on Greenaway’s movies. On the one hand, it includes various mediums, allowing the interweaving of late-twentieth century visual arts (cinema and television) with theatre; on the other hand, it presupposes flexibility and a need for artistic fusion, creating a profusion of texts, images, and sounds within the given artistic constellation. This variability of expression requires variable spaces and this paper seeks to substantiate the interrelation between the metamorphosis of locations and identity in Peter Greenaway’s The Baby of Mâcon.
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