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.
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
Love and loss set against the horror of World War I.
During the First World War, a Canadian soldier, devastated by the recent death of his fiancee, arrives at the frozen Russian city of Archangel. While billeted with a local family, he is astonished to discover a woman that may or may not be the lover he thought lost. Unfortunately, she is suffering from amnesia and remembers nothing of their former passion. A rival suitor, claiming to be her husband and who may also be suffering from amnesia, is equally unsuccessful at winning her affection. The melancholy story plays itself out against the madness of the Great War.
Filming entirely indoors with homemade props and costumes, director Guy Maddin has created a very strange and intense movie. Cribbing heavily from the look and atmosphere of German expressionist cinema, Maddin goes much further in exploring some very human issues: loss, love, memory and redemption. He also examines patriotism and by stylistically depicting the horrors of trench warfare he delivers a pacifist message that reminds me of movies like Grande Illusion and All Quiet on the Western Front. The ultimate power of this movie, however, lies in the sense of alienation we see among the characters. They are not only unable to love each other, they are barely able to communicate. In fact, under the cloud of forgetfulness that is a major theme in this movie, the characters are often not even capable of recognizing one another at all!
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