Posted By Art Baxter

It wouldn't be until 2002 when Maddin came roaring back with another feature, Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary. A retelling of the Dracula story as a filmed ballet performance by the Winnipeg Ballet Company. Maddin returns to grainy black and white and takes a further evolutionary regression. The film is silent save an orchestral soundtrack. The film is also the first feature to use the quick cutting techniques he first employed in his short, The Heart of the World. Leave it to Maddin to find something fresh in a story that has been done to death. It's perhaps the only version of Dracula to burnish in relief the theme of xenophobia at the heart of Stoker's novel. With Heart and Dracula, Maddin got his second wind and was on a roll.

Maddin soon followed Dracula with The Saddest Music in the World and Cowards Bend the Knee. The former a big budget (for him) color production featuring Isabella Rossellini and a silent black & white, ten part gallery installation. Although Saddest Music features Rossellini as a double amputee who wears prosthetic glass legs filled with beer it's tone is a tad too glib thanks to the mugging of Mark McKinny and the look is oddly too slick for a Maddin production. It does, however, have it's moments. Cowards fares much better as a fictional autobiography with requisite hand transplant/ice hockey/incest/beauty salon plot machinations in ten thrilling chapters. Cowards was originally presented in a gallery as a peep show where viewers would have to get on there knees to view each chapter from holes close to the ground.

Maddin's latest feature Brand Upon the Brain! is one of my personal favorites, is another fictional autobiography. In this film, an adult Maddin rows back to his childhood home, a lighthouse on a remote island, to carry out his mother's final wish and to give the lighthouse a fresh coat of paint. With every brushstroke he relives the horror of his childhood when his parents ran an orphanage there. His father used the children for his mysterious experiments while a famous girl detective disguised as as her twin brother investigates. It's black and white and silent again this time with a narration by Isabella Rossellini. Don't miss it!

Check out a Guy Maddin film today for his 52nd birthday!

FILMOGRAPHY
Feature Films:

• Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988)   
• Archangel (1990)
• Careful (1992)
• Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997)
• Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary (2002)
• Cowards Bend the Knee (2003)
• The Saddest Music in the World (2003)   
• Brand Upon the Brain! (2006) - Trailer
• My Winnipeg (2007)

Select Short Films:
Odilon Redon or The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity (1995)
• The Heart of the World (2000)

FURTHER READING:
• FROM THE ATELIER TOVAR: SELECTED WRITINGS by Guy Maddin, 2003

cowards

Cowards Bend the Knee (2003) - Boy, do they BEND!


 
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