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While their mother is dying in the modern Gimli, Manitoba hospital, two young children are told a tale by their Icelandic grandmother about Einar the Lonely, his friend Gunnar, and the angelic Snjofridur in a Gimli of old. Written by
Here's a movie that took its miniscule budget and really made the most of it.
How? Well, take a look at the looping synchronization. It can't be done well without being expensive, so they do very little of it, and get around the problem by shooting characters from obtuse angles that hide the problem. Color's expensive too, so it's in black and white. And music? You can hear the needle drop on the record.
But the money they spent went in the right areas. The visuals are so strong and the camera placement sometimes so unexpected that you find yourself wondering what it is you're looking at--and then something moves, and the tableau breaks apart into a conventional scene. The opening sequence, a long sfx pan down to the Gimli hospital, going through clouds and angels, evokes the 1940s so well that you halfway expect to see William Bendix in one of the beds. The costuming is strange and the plot seems totally unworkable, and yet it pulls you in and keeps you there, never seems to make a horrible misstep, and at times hits exactly what it's aiming for.
Sure it's an amateur film. But look at the nice smooth camera work, the well-paced editing, the good choices in music for mood. While it's all too easy to cite Cocteau, Blood of a Poet comes to mind often while watching Tales from the Gimli Hospital, thanks to the surprising interruption of the narrative by little bits of surreal magic. You don't walk away from this one saying that it could have been done better--instead, you wonder how it was done so well for so little.
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