Fritters and Jitters – The Proper Analysis of a Guy Maddin Artifact
Abstract: Guy Maddin is recognized as one of the most enigmatic filmmakers working today and is often compared (ironically, in reductive terms) to Luis Bunuel and David Lynch. Maddin’s films are complex and expound the affective dimensions of surrealism in terms that are not yet well-rehearsed academically. Comparisons of Maddin to other filmmakers will always be found wanting. That being said, his films do evoke the photogenic energy of Abel Gance and Maddin has also made remarks that he was guided early on by Josef von Sternberg. There is a cornucopia of inspiration ever-present in Maddin’s oeuvre. Once this encyclopedic referential quality of Maddin’s films is accepted on its own terms, the notion of categorizing his work as kitsch or camp becomes absurd. Maddin is a mad scientist in the cinematic laboratory (a Docteur Tube, if you will), always working in experimental stages, always inventing – always theorizing. For Maddin, nothing is complete and his work will always be haunted by the ghosts of what-might-have-been – the experimental failures that never were because a formula was achieved and the trials moved on. The absurd of Guy Maddin’s work lies in the fact that what is presented could have been presented a thousand different ways. The tension of Maddin presenting merely one way is played out through juxtapositions in the narrative and editing giving rise to a sense of absurdity. The absurd is an affective reaction by audiences who must disavow experiencing a Maddin film as the myriad of narratives that it really is.