At the core of TRANCE's wild ride into memory, mind games, desire and crime is the exquisite
stolen painting that the thieves cannot find: Francisco Goya's 1798 oil canvas, "Witches in the Air."
Often dubbed "the father of modern painting," Goya altered the trajectory of art by mixing observations
of real life with explorations into the world of dreams and imagination. "Witches in the Air" is one of his most surreal works, one that beckons the viewer into a realm of wonder and madness at the same
time as reflecting on an era of unjust witch hunting.
For Danny Boyle the painting was a perfect pairing with the story of TRANCE. "Goya is
thought of as the father of modern art because he stepped inside the mind," says Boyle. "And in
'Witches in the Air' we see a man hiding beneath a blanketâ€¦and I felt very strongly that this was
James's character Simon."
John Hodge felt similarly. "There's a great deal of overt violence in Goya's work, and that was
very fitting to this story," he says. "'Witches in the Air' certainly carries that sense of supernatural
control hovering over the story. I think that there is a sense in which all three characters, at different
points in the story, find themselves acting outside of their own will. They're all, at different points
trapped in situations where you could sort of feel that there are spirits hovering over them, if you like."
Colson adds: "Goya was also very interesting for the film because of his innovations in
depicting female bodies, which in high art had previously been idealized and rendered free of
imperfections. Goya was the first to paint the nude as he saw it."
Production designer Tildesley was fascinated by how the symbolism in the painting matched
the undercurrents of TRANCE. "It's an exotic, weird painting of a person being lifted up by these three
witches in tall hats, ascending into the air in like some sort of dream, and then below them are these
three characters. There's the donkey, which represents madness or foolishness, I suppose. There's the
person who can't see, who's running with a cloak over their head, and then there's another person lying
in agony with his hands over his ears. It just felt like the perfect picture."
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