The Setting: Greenaway and the Tri-part Stage
The central stage, the kitchen, becomes a refuge, an oasis of human worth, (almost perpetually blessed with the sweet voice singing a hymn of redemption).
The meat van, filled with stinking rotten worm infested carnage becomes the purgatory through which the star-crossed lovers must pass to reach deliverance.
Deliverance, however is a myth in this world. The promised land becomes a site of disaster.
The final request of Georgianna takes the cycle to a final close. Greenaway makes us reach the site of masquerade to witness an act of vengeance, where Albert, the Thief is taken to a point of no redemption. The painting on the wall, strangely reminiscent of Rizzoli’s “The Last Supper” exudes an aura of deceit and violence against the purest souls.
Food: The sacrament or poison?
Interestingly, it becomes an enactment of Corpus Christi, the body of Christ, the sacrificial lamb transformed into food. But then, the act of Albert might have a disturbing Christian consolation : “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”[John 6:54]
The story, therefore, problematizes the possibilities and limits of redemption. How far can the holy water cleanse? It may wash away the dirt smeared on a slave by a cruel master, it may cleanse the bodies of the blood stained stink from rotten flesh, but when it comes to the blood stained soul of a murderer, the holy water is not enough.
The story is, therefore, not just about a humiliated woman’s sexual escapades assisted by a friendly associate. It is about cleansing the soul, stained and chained down in inferno.
And the chant of cleansing creates the background through a majestic refrain: “Wash me thoroughly from my inequity…”
Please do watch for a visual gourmet and a spiritual ecstasy.