The Baby Of Mâcon
I am very aware that the “Choice cuts, Halloween list” is becoming an exploration into real world horror rather than the supernatural. I will continue this cinematic exploration as the subject matter of human debauchery seems to be far more shocking than any supernatural horror or monster flick.
The Baby of Mâcon directed by Peter Greenaway is set in France during the mid-17th century. An actors guild sponsored by the church perform a parable about a baby born in the town of Mâcon, the inhabitants of which have been infertile for a generation. As the play, and what is happening behind the scenes unfolds, it becomes apparent that the performance itself is a ritual to empower the Church and to offer human sacrifices to appease the town’s own problems & superstitions. There are no health & safety rules, moral values or workers’ rights to be found here! The Baby of Mâcon is a brutal Fiction-Within-Fiction exercise that ingeniously implicates the viewer in the appalling acts of violence on screen. It all feels a bit too real, and the overtly visceral content is extremely hard to watch.
As always Greenaway paints an incredible picture, he is a true cinematic auteur. Greenaway alongside his (frequently hired) director of photography, Sacha Vierny have mastered framing their shots, colour coding, costume design & lighting to make each frame resemble Renaissance style artwork. Another re-occurring theme in Greenaway’s films seems to be, graphic & upsetting depictions of slow & painful deaths, the most gruesome examples, have clearly been saved for this film. If you want to feel uncomfortable and soak up Peter Greenaway’s cinematography (and also find some enjoyment in his movies) I recommend starting with one of his other films, for example Drowning by Numbers or The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, both these films have the unique Renaissance style. The Baby Of Mâcon is possibly to unpleasant & difficult a watch to fully enjoy. This film has strong Salo vibes, it really gets under the viewers skin. I may cover Salo in this series of reviews, but I am unsure if I want to subject myself to it again. I also don’t think I’ll be watching The Baby Of Mâcon again anytime soon.
Certainly, the most challenging film so far. Like Salo if anyone ever says this is their favourite film, I would steer well clear!