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 »
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In a near-empty Northfork orphanage, Father Harlan gently tends to Irwin, an eight-year-old who lies between a dream state and death. As orphanage caretaker Harlan reads aloud about Northfork's years-ago forced evacuation to make way for a hydro-electric dam, Irwin's imagination takes flight. While a team of six men evacuate the last remaining citizens of the town, Irwin, too, invents a cast of characters to prepare himself for his own evacuation. (the above states the caretaker - who is actually the priest - is reading about a years-ago evacuation. In the movie, the evacuation is taking place as the boy lays dying!) Written by
Sujit R. Varma
When the six committee members get out of their three cars at the dam, we hear eight doors slam. See more »
[reading a letter]
To the loving O'Brien family. It has been brought to our attention that the remains of a Mrs. Patricia O'Brien have yet to be excavated. Please make arrangements immediately.
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this is a very special movie, driven by imagery and character rather than by linear action or even plot. Things progress along two lines which eventually converge, that of the dying child cared for by the Father, and the evacuation of the valley. The child, delirious, is pulled back and forth between two realms, while the Father waits upon his dying. Nick Nolte plays this part with enormous sensitivity and restraint. The evacuation teams seem to suggest a parallel to the Biblical flood, and eventually the two lines of action merge into a dream state, as if the flood is waiting for the child, as well. James Woods gives a deceptively simple, finely nuanced performance, providing emotional depth and focus to the story line. The question seems to be, is the flood the waters of life, or the waters of death? Or is it both at the same time? The writers seem to feel that in the final analysis, there is no difference between the two. Rather than leaving one disheartened, this film uplifts.
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