Beautiful aria from Anderson and hypnotic directing from Maddin
The Lonely Housemaid will never find love and can seemingly only dream about being happy. As she sings we see her and other oversexed, restless women cavorting away without a permanent catch. With drowning sailors and leaving husbands, we listen to the lonely housemaid's aria and see her tale of a lonely, unhappy life.
I saw this short film at a film night recently dedicated to showing several of Maddin's short films and his recent 'Cowards Bend at the Knee'. Despite the event being a little amateurish in its organisation, with a late start and 20 minutes spent watching a band tidy up in front of the screen, I enjoyed the evening and was glad for the chance to see several of the films for the first time. This film was one of the ones that I had seen for the first time and, like many of Maddin's films I struggle to get into it in the short period that it ran for. This I consider to be a problem with his shorts sometimes, unless you are really aware of his influences then you'll struggle to get the substance of the short (kind of like watching Shrek without any knowledge of popular culture you just wouldn't know what it was trying to do). However, the visuals are always impressive and even someone with only a passing knowledge of the silent movie period should be able to enjoy the sheer imagination and flair that Maddin directs with.
The plot here had me stretching as the visuals alone were hard to keep up with and didn't do that much to clearly define the subject and the story. The aria didn't help me much as it was originally from Powder Her Face and didn't match the on screen images in terms of content or comment. However this is not the main thing because, as much as I would liked to have understood or 'got' every image, I didn't really need to. Instead I enjoyed the images that were touched by Maddin's usual silent cinema style and by his great imagination and ability to translate that imagination into images for us all. The aria was wonderful and I was sucked into the short by it, making me enjoy the images and appreciate the film even if the substance was lost on me.
Overall yet another good example of Maddin at work, and one that should be seen by as many people as it can. It may not be everyone's thing but I defy anyone to just give up on it the beauty of the images and the aria are enjoy to hold anyone's attention even if they find themselves at a loss to say what it was all about.
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