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.
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 »
When the devil wishes to take a mortal soul, he'll walk the planes of Earth in the guise of a child, for their hearts are pure. But for every soul in danger, God sends a protector, a guardian to watch over them...
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill ... 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 »
A short documentary on hair styles that appeal specifically to women of middle age and the middle class. Elements of sociological inquiry merge with Maddin's customary decayed imagery (... See full summary »
A group of indolent bonvivants stage an accident in order to cadge money for alcohol. The scheme backfires when one of the conspirators is simply too lazy to fulfill his particular function... 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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