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The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

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A musical of sorts set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win the $25,000 prize.

Director:

Guy Maddin

Writers:

Kazuo Ishiguro (original screenplay), George Toles | 1 more credit »
6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark McKinney ... Chester Kent
Isabella Rossellini ... Lady Helen Port-Huntley
Maria de Medeiros ... Narcissa
David Fox ... Fyodor Kent
Ross McMillan Ross McMillan ... Roderick Kent / Gravillo the Great
Louis Negin ... Blind Seer
Darcy Fehr ... Teddy
Claude Dorge ... Duncan Elksworth
Talia Pura ... Mary
Jeff Sutton Jeff Sutton ... Young Chester
Graeme Valentin Graeme Valentin ... Young Roderick
Maggie Nagle Maggie Nagle ... Chester's Mother
Victor Cowie Victor Cowie ... Man in Bar
Jessica Burleson Jessica Burleson ... Lady's Secretary
Wayne Nicklas Wayne Nicklas ... Boardmember
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Storyline

It's the winter of 1933 in Winnipeg. In honor of Winnipeg being named the sorrow capital of the world for the Depression era for the fourth year running by the London Times, Lady Helen Port-Huntley, the legless owner of Winnipeg's Port-Huntley Beer, is hosting and judging a contest to see which nation has the saddest music in the world, the winner to take home a $25,000 prize. Seeing as to the current Prohibition in the United States, Lady Port-Huntley has ulterior motives for the contest. Father and son, streetcar conductor Fyodor Kent and New York based musical producer Chester Kent, who both have a past connection to Lady Port-Huntley (Fyodor, a WWI veteran and former doctor, has fashioned for her an unusual pair of artificial legs apropos to her business), want to represent Canada and the United States respectively in the contest. Despite Lady Port-Huntley's hatred for the Kent's, she does allow them to do so if only to advance her own priorities. As the contest takes place, the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"If you're sad, and like beer, I'm your lady."

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and violent images | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

12 May 2005 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

A Canção Mais Triste do Mundo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD 3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$37,743, 2 May 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$669,128, 25 July 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Guy Maddin: the hand amputating Lady Port-Huntley's legs. See more »

Quotes

Lady Port-Huntley: If you are sad and like beer, I'm your lady.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Serbian Folk Melody
Arranged by Christopher Dedrick
Cello: Roman Borys
See more »

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User Reviews

 
10/10
2 August 2004 | by desperatelivingSee all my reviews

What could only be titled as Cinema of the Ridiculous, Maddin's latest masterpiece, about a no-legged beer queen who hosts a Winnipeg-set competition to see which nation has the saddest music in the world, is filled to the gills with wacky ideas, but the reason it's a great film is because of the heartfelt feeling behind it. Maddin's genuine love for the silent cinema that he emulates (and attachment to the pathetic characters he creates) makes it possible for him to sustain a comic tone without it ever becoming mocking.

Maddin manages to balance the grotesque comic caricature of Mark McKinney as the shady mustached businessman who tries to win the competition, and Maria de Medeiros, who gets life advice from her tapeworm, with the pathetic goth character that's McKinney's brother, who's had to deal with the loss of a son, and the glamorous Isabella Rossellini, who's had to deal with the loss of her legs. (I wonder if the fact that Rossellini lost her legs in a car accident caused by her performing fellatio is a nod to the Myth of Murnau.) There's almost a subliminal melodrama taking place with the theme of loss and hilarious depression (during The Depression). It's an exciting movie visually, but unlike the best of the silents that Maddin loves, it's not poetic in that slow, beautiful way -- it's too fast-paced, kinetic, and rough to achieve any sort of traditional beauty -- but it is a feast. The few scenes of gaudy color -- reds, blues, and odd flesh tones -- are as grainy as the black and white. Maddin is truly one of the most imaginative of directors and he has a firm grasp of the medium. In fact, there is at least one scene of slow, beautiful poetry -- a purely silent moment, near the end, that comes alongside the bloody murder of Rossellini's screams. 10/10


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