Film Reviews: Guy Maddin
The Dead Father
Opening credits with emblematic close shots of the cast of characters performing direct address to the apparatus aptly introduces the tropes and themes of Maddin's oeuvre - a mastery over the reproduction of early cinema aesthetics. The Gancian rapid edit montages that Maddin achieved so brilliantly in his career are not present in his first film, however other Impressionist devices pronounce themselves. Oblique angles, intercutting, juxtapositions help to create an eerie and provocative diegesis. Psychoanalysis creeps into most of Maddin's film and The Dead Father is no exception. Necrophiliac cannibalism through the consumption of the dead father produces a new twist on the Oedipal Complex - fetishizing patricide creates a haunting.
Tales from the Gimli Hospital
Silent era non-diegetic soundtrack, emblematic close shots in the opening credits, black-and-white stock, and long vertical pans operate for the development of Maddin's stylistic system - an emulation of silent era aesthetics and tropes. The other major component of the Maddin system is juxtaposition using contemporary, avant-garde techniques. The sound of an electric guitar cuts in with the sound of car engines. A broken record loops over the PA system in a hospital. Intellectual montage sequences purvey a sense of perverted eroticism. The bucolic mise-en-scene reminds that the theme of Gimli is historical, yet the tales untold haunt that history. If history is developed from tales or personal accounts then how much is history a misrepresentation based on the prejudices... or even delirium of those who experienced the events first-hand?
Set in Siberia, Russia this Maddin feature contemplates the fuzzy line between love, pride and vanity. Struggles for self-worth are juxtaposed with the abyss of history - past, present and future conflated into a soup of ethereal experience. The year is 1919, but characters suffer from amnesia disavowing the present and fetishizing death.
Maddin continues to develop his stylistic system which is based in loopy narratives, feedback editing and kaleidoscope aesthetics. The silent era surrealist, impressionist and expressionist tropes are accented through use of tinting/toning, oblique angles, tableaux framing, emblematic shots and intellectual montage. Von Sternberg and Gance are obvious influences for Maddin's oeuvre. The story of Careful concerns the idea that corporeality is akin to being placed in a strait-jacket. Photogenie becomes ironic; the souls of objects mock us.