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Feature Friday: “The Baby of Mâcon” (1993)

Time Magazine, Peter Greenaway had you beat back in 1993—and then some. Below the jump you’ll find the polemical Welsh director’s response to a similar debate in 1993, when the perennially outrageous United Colors of Benetton ultra-outraged Britons with an ad featuring a newborn baby (still bloody, its umbilical cord still attached). Greenaway replied:

What is so horrible about a newborn baby? Why is that image (one that is seen many times a day in hospitals all over the country) so unacceptable, when much more horrific images are presented on television and the cinema, featuring murder and rape, but glamorized and made safe?

And thus he set out to make a film that would be exactly what he thought audiences wanted.

The Baby of Mâcon (1993)

Written and directed by Peter Greenaway

Starring Julia Ormond and Ralph Fiennes


Update: Note that this version of the film was put up by its producer, Kees Kasander, himself! (Or by somebody on his staff.) You can see the other two films uploaded by Kasander Films here.

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

8 thoughts on “Feature Friday: “The Baby of Mâcon” (1993)

  1. You can also find Greenaway’s Darwin on youtube – http://youtu.be/wxyoLTs_Nk8 – which is extremely rare – it has never even been released on DVD.

    Cool to see you talking about Greenaway, and I watched Baby of Macon only a month or so ago. I found it fascinating, though I would call Cook, Thief… and A Zed and Two Noughts better films.

    1. Hey, thanks! I love Darwin, and haven’t seen it in some time.

      In the mid-to-late 90s I was a real Greenaway freak. Prospero’s Books has always been my favorite, along with Belly of an Architect and Drowning By Numbers.

      1. I’ve never been able to get a hold of Prospero’s Books or Drowning by Numbers – drives me crazy how hard some of his stuff is to find. Belly of an Architect is pretty great, though.

        I also have his novel, Gold, but haven’t read it yet.

        Pillow Book (which seems to star Ewan McGregor’s penis) was the first of his movies I saw, and I really didn’t care for it, but something about it fascinated me and so I sought out more of his films. I should probably re-watch it sometime to see if I like it now after being exposed to so much more Greenaway. I saw it in an avant-garde film class and I think I may have had a migraine that day, which certainly wouldn’t have helped things.

        1. Prospero’s Books used to be one of his easiest films to find—I first rented it from a Blockbuster in Old Forge, Pennsylvania—and now it’s the elusive one. I still have a VHS copy but it’s pan and scanned and who has a VHS deck anymore these days? (Not me.)

          I saw Pillow Book in the theaters—drove an hour each way with a friend to see it—and have always liked it, though it’s never been one of my favorites. But even a lesser PG film is still pretty marvelous to look at!

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