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Archangel (1990)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 1 September 1990 (Canada)
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


John B. Harvie (story suggestion), Guy Maddin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Gottli Michael Gottli ... Jannings
David Falkenburg David Falkenburg ... Geza
Michael O'Sullivan Michael O'Sullivan ... Doctor
Margaret Anne MacLeod Margaret Anne MacLeod ... Baba
Ari Cohen ... Philbin
Sarah Neville Sarah Neville ... Danchuk
Kathy Marykuca Kathy Marykuca ... Veronkha
Kyle McCulloch Kyle McCulloch ... Lt. John Boles
Victor Cowie Victor Cowie ... Sea Captain
Ihor Procak Ihor Procak ... Monk
Robert Lougheed Robert Lougheed ... Kaiser Wilhelm II
Stephen Snyder Stephen Snyder ... Stage Kaiser Wilhelm II (as Snyder)
Michael Powell Michael Powell ... Red Cross Nurse
Sam Toles Sam Toles ... Young Philbin
Lloyd Weinberg Lloyd Weinberg ... Priest


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 <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Tragedy of the Great War


Comedy | Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 September 1990 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Arcángel See more »

Filming Locations:

Manitoba, Canada See more »


Box Office


CAD 500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,592, 21 July 1991, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


First film role of Bif Naked. See more »


[first lines]
Lt. John Boles: Goodbye Iris.
See more »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

In the morning, PANCAKE!
7 September 2015 | by mmendez-22089See all my reviews

But seriously, you have films being made out there that are budgeting around $500,000,000 and then there are films like this; not even nominated for any major motion-picture awards? In my world, this is an Academy Award winner for best picture // and it only cost 50,000 Canadian Dollars! ARCHANGEL, at first, was a slippery slope, but somehow elevated to a nice, flat plain of gorgeousness.

We have a typical Guy Maddin story (B/W) based in 1919 about an amnesiac soldier named John Boles (no big names in this film) who sets out to find his true love, Iris, in Archangel, Russia where the Great War has already ended three months prior, but they have not received word about it yet. Obviously, the whole thing can be looked at as a gag; people wasting their time, dying (perhaps) when they shouldn't be. A lot of elements stuck out to me during this story that makes me believe that YOU CAN WATCH THIS FILM A MILLION TIMES AND NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER GET BORED.

Let us start right off the bat and mention that this film was VERY EISENSTEIN- ESQUE. Definitely not a bad thing; we all love IVAN THE TERRIBLE, but for some amount of individuals, it is just not their cup of cameo-mocha tea. The things I find similar are the CINEMATOGRAPHY; very old fashioned just as Eisenstein had it in the 40s and 50s // then there is the SET DESIGN, which is the biggest in my opinion, because, as complex as the movie may seem, it was such a simple development and everything (costumes and all) ran smoothly (nothing seems too quirky or fake). He really gave a sense of direction regardless of how amateur the locations seem.

**Speaking of Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible: Part II, ARCHANGEL used a similar effect towards the end to give the audience a sense of direction from one place to another; one, red tint // one, blue tint. Very beautiful.

I rated Guy Maddin's Twilight Nymphs (pretty low, in fact) and couldn't help but feel betrayed by him. Now after seeing this project, I want to RE-WATCH that film until I can find the greatness in it. THE MADDINESS!! if you will..

***But like other Maddin films, this one has the same style of dialogue. That means, unnecessary laughs and confusion all around the audience. BUT I LOVE IT. Like I said, this movie you can see numerous times and always get a different out-look on it. Some things you might take to heart, but others you might find are actually part of the story and fit very well // however quirky or surreal they may seem. My favorite line comes from Iris's second lover, Philbin, when he says:

+ PHILBIN: I believe there is a reason for everything. For instance, someone shaved my mustache while I slept last night. What could that mean? +

I think this film is very easy to understand, even for a baby.. okay, maybe not really, but some might thinks there's too much going on. BE PATIENT, the story will come to you. Besides, there is written text shown to update you every once in a while of what it happening in the scenes.

*****There is a scene with someones intestines that I REALLY want to bring up, but I do not want to contain any spoilers in my reviews. **If you watch this film or have already embarked upon it, then you will know what I am talking about; Hehe.

I hereby rate thee film a 10 OUT OF 10!!! I know, many will concur, but film for me is a serious art form. While some things out their are being made with no effort, money wasted, and DREAMS CRUSHED.. it is works like this that can really make you take a second and actually appreciate LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, POSSESSIONS, or even COURAGE/BRAVEY; claiming your part in the world. And I got all of that from Guy Maddin's Archangel. - Heart-on!

-- Michael Mendez

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