The Baroness and the Pig

Director: Michael Mackenzie

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


The themes of The Baroness and the Pig—an obsession with technology, interest in new forms of art, questions as to what constitutes being human and civilized—all resonate as much today as they did in the late-nineteenth-century setting of Michael Mackenzie's play, adapted for the screen in the author's feature film debut. And his choice to shoot the film in high-definition digital technology amplifies the distinctive qualities of this very special work that showcases the inventiveness of a new wave of Canadian filmmakers.

Patricia Clarkson, who has clearly been in demand professionally, plays the Baroness, an American expatriate, whose marriage to an English aristocrat lands her in Paris, but whose aspirations as a salon hostess collide with the snobbery and conservatism of the very class of people she hopes to cultivate. Not to be denied, she undertakes the "education" of an enfant sauvage with the intention of "presenting her" at a dinner party.

With a sharp-edged wit and perspicacity that constantly reflect on both the past and present (silver-backed mirrors are not only motifs in the film but provide its central metaphor), Mackenzie invokes a magical combination of reality and fable that lingers long after the images fade.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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