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The Baby of Mâcon

The Baby of Mâcon (1993)

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Willful weirdness doesn’t get much more stringently strange than in The Baby of Mâcon (1993). Director Peter Greenaway has been described, positively, as an “absurdist absolutist,” and there are no half measures in a plot line that is presented as a play within a film. A wandering troupe stages their drama in the court of the seventeenth century Medicis. In the first act, a fair maiden abducts the beautiful newborn whelped by her crone mother and claims the baby as her own virgin birth. The kid performs small miracles in exchange for small fees, an evil bishop sends his son to interfere, and events twist into an intractable knot of sickness and evil. The fictional performance is propelled across the line separating actor and audience, climaxing with the virgin being repeatedly attacked in real life so that she will be eligible to be hung until death. The corpse of the actor who played her infant brother is then chopped up and the pieces distributed as talismans of good luck. A tough job for the tyke, but at least he’s in showbiz.