Becoming-bird and Peter Greenaway’s THE FALLS

Text originally presented at the February 2009 symposium on Peter Greenaway’s films at the University of Nice, and published in CYCNOS, Volume 26 n°1: Peter Greenaway. Abstract:

In this text I consider Peter Greenaway’s film The Falls as an extended Deleuzian meditation on modes of reception of an Event. I argue that (1) the film deterritorialises the documentary form with the falsifying narration of responses to an unseeable and unsayable event (called the «Vast Unknown Event»),(2) its content amounts to a catalogue of these diverse responses in terms of the loss of previous fixed identity and the entry into becoming (the film enumerates various modalities and degrees of becoming bird),(3) its subtended subjectivity is that of the line of flight empowered by the becoming (exemplified in the film by Erhaus Falluper) (4), its vision is ethological: a typology of the degree of affinity between the becomings and the line of flight, ranging from conforming to a model (becoming-bird) to inventing a new possibility of life (bird-becoming).

Extract from Michel Remy’s presentation of the proceedings:

According to Terence Blake’s own analysis (University of Nice), the key to Greenaway’s aesthetics is given by a reconsideration of The Falls, one of his earliest films, but in this case, to throw as much light as possible on the process, a Deleuzian approach has to be adopted and  Greenaway’s strange narrational processes have to be seen in terms of “rhizomatics”. The image can no longer be seen from a dogmatic point of view, but as the locus of the subversion of the dogma, or the doxa, and the opening onto networks of meanings, what Deleuze aptly calls a rhizome. This is why Greenaway’s films constitute a subversion of documentary truth by pushing the spectator away from fixed identities into his own becoming, and this is eventually seen by Terence Blake as founding “a post-modern, post-identity ethic”.

Or on here.

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