Form, Time and Trauma: The Terence Davies Triptych and Queer Temporalities

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This essay argues that Children, Madonna and Child and Death and Transfiguration mark the emergence of Terence Davies unique and idiosyncratic approach to cinematic temporality and in their dissolution of the traditional distinction between flashback and flashforward encourage the emergence of a formal approach that works to express the complex relationship between the adult homosexual and the queer child. Via the work of Katherine Bond Stockton this essay problematises the notion of the queer child as an ‘undead’ or ghostly figure that intrudes on or haunts the life of the adult and instead suggests that in its temporal uncertainty and formal ingenuity the ‘Trilogy’ conceptualises the queer child as an unborn or new-born figure that comes into existence via present-tense acts of adult recollection and recognition. Central to this reading is an attempt to reposition the ‘Trilogy’ as a Triptych - a religiously inflected tripartite cultural object divided into three panels that encourages a circular or reciprocal engagement and asks the spectator to read across the three elements of the work rather than through them as in a traditional linear narrative.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Apr 2024


  • Terence Davies
  • Childhood
  • Triptych
  • Memory
  • Aesthetics
  • Queer


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