An amnesiac soldier, seeking his lost love, arrives in Archangel in northern Russia to help the townsfolk in their fight against the Bolsheviks, all quite unaware that the Great War ended three months ago.
In the Alpine village of Tolzbad in the 1800s, the townsfolk talk quietly and restrain their movements lest they incur avalanches. This atmosphere lends itself to repressed emotions - shown... See full summary »
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 ... See full summary »
Peter Glahn is released after years of incarceration as a political prisoner and is now returning to his homeland, the mythical Mandragora where the sun never sets. On board the ship home, ... See full summary »
It's time for hockey! There's no telling what will happen when the Winnipeg Maroons' own star player Guy becomes embroiled in the twisted lives of Meta, a vengeful Chinoise, and her ... See full summary »
A ballet rendition of Bram Stoker's gothic novel DRACULA, presented in a style reminiscent of the silent expressionistic cinema of the early 20th Century. This work employs the subtle and ... See full summary »
Guy Maddin reluctantly returns to his childhood home, an abandoned Canadian island, where his parents ran an orphanage. As Guy fulfills his dying mother's request to paint the lighthouse ... See full summary »
A musical of sorts set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win the $25,000 prize.
Maria de Medeiros
A father and son ride the rails in their powerful locomotive. Witnessing a crash between two other engines, they rescue the lone survivor, Berenice, and make her a part of their family. All... See full summary »
In the old days it was called hypochrondria, or black melancholia. Now, apparently, it's termed the Asthenic Syndrome. Whatever it is, Nikolai, a teacher of epicly indifferent pupils, has ... See full summary »
Nikolai, a mortician, and Osip, an actor playing Christ in a play, are brothers in love with the same woman. Anna, a state scientist and said woman, is in love with both brothers and ... See full summary »
Lt. John Boles, a one-legged soldier, is assisting the White Russians in the Russian Arctic during World War I. He finds himself in Archangel, a crystalline city of spires and domes, inhabited by some very confused people. Boles loves Iris, who is dead, and meets Veronkha, whom he mistakes for Iris. But Veronkha is already married to Philbin, who forgets he is married to Veronkha. Veronkha thinks Boles is Philbin... Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
Guy Maddin has stated that audience members viewing the film for the first time often confused the characters Veronkha and Danchukh because of the physical similarities between Kathy Marykuca and Sarah Neville. Marykuca was a natural blond and wore a dark wig for the film. See more »
I only know a few of Maddin's projects. This seems to be the earliest available.
I'm really beginning a deep appreciation of this man's visual soul. While this project didn't change my life, it demonstrated the power to do so, like a strutting policeman among weak minds.
What I like about his mind is how he seats the thing first in the soul, then in the cinematic vocabulary instead of the usual path which values character, motivations, narrative clarity. What he's done here is revisit Eisenstein. I don't suppose many filmgoers have much truck for a Russian silent filmmaker who was primarily occupied in Soviet propaganda. He developed some important ideas about how a scene (never a movie only a scene) can be constructed from visual fragments what it means to "see."
His particular solutions aren't popular today, and the whole idea of slicing the eye has been appropriated to the service of now-conventional values of storytelling and the cult of celebrity some few jokes and even fewer emotions destinations.
Eisenstein's idea is based on the notion of readable cells of retinal comprehension, more or less of the same size which when combined give an impression. The more discrete the components in presentation the more comprehensible the assembly, what he called the collage.
What Maddin does here is make a metaEisenstein. The story is set in Russia and populated by international warriors, all of whom have only a groggy notion of why they are there. Our hero, like Maddin, is Canadian. It is essentially a silent movie. There is a parallel movie that is a talkie, into which this silent, main piece is embedded.
Within the silent movie is a sort of "movie within," exactly as abstract from the silent portion as the silent portion is to the talkie portion and thence not to our world (as is the usual case with folding) but to the world of normal movies.
That "movie within" is the "illumination" a set of stage tableaux depicting famous battles. If you experience nothing but these or rather if you skate over all the surrounding context and focus only on these you will be rewarded. There's so much reference there.
The overall theme of the thing is the hard boundary of memory, where the continuity of knowing begins and ends. In the story, this exhibits as amnesia plus a sort of quantum identity shifts of women, who else? That's good, its valuable. But the interesting thing is how this is seated in the collage itself. Eisenstein's idea is that each cell, each image, of the collage needs to have some reference to the others. The art is in the nature of that reference.
Maddin makes that reference sit on the cells. In his case they are not bubbles in transparent foam that light can shine through. Instead they are stones, smooth stones with hard impenetrable skins that only know themselves and keep forgetting those they are nestled against. So they forget who they are.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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