Fátima Chinita

The Power of the Frame upon the Viewer: Multiple Perspective Seduction in Peter Greenaway’s The Tulse Luper Suitcases Trilogy

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Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


In The Tulse Luper Suitcases trilogy – Part 1 – The Moab Story (2003); Part 2 – From Vaux to the Sea (2004); Part 3 – From Sark to Finish (2004) – Peter Greenaway plays with the tension between three- and two-dimensionality. His digital cinema, which superimposes several layers of images and sounds, uses the frame as both instrument and theme of a meta-cinematic discourse on media and the way they interrelate. Drawing especially from painting and theatre, Greenaway rejects the Renaissance monocular perspective in favour of a haptic visuality that alternates between depth and flatness, between single-framed tableaux and multi-framed composite images. The result is a hybrid, a sort of “imploded” narrative, as disruptive as it is engaging. Although dismissing the traditional Western visual paradigm in general and the classical analytical montage in particular, Greenaway nevertheless bases his practice on some of the most renowned aspects of the continuity editing style, if only to undermine them. This critically revamped editing is aesthetically and cognitively seductive, acting upon the viewers’ fetishistic attraction for the medium as well as their affects and senses.

Keywords: Frame, Multi-layering, Multi-frame, Two- and three-dimensionality, Senses, Immersion.


This article was financially supported by FCT, under the Post-Doctoral fellowship programme SFRH/BDP/113196/2015.

Biographical note

Fátima Chinita, PhD, teaches Film Studies, Film Narrative and Film Production in Lisbon’s Polytechnic Institute, at the Theatre and Film School. She is currently doing a joint post-doctoral research in Intermediality and Inter-arts studies at Labcom.IFP/University of Beira Interior, in Portugal, and IMS – Intermediality and Multimodality Centre/ University of Linnaeus, in Sweden (Växjö).