Monday, December 29, 2014
everything happens twice
by Douglas Messerli
Guy Maddin and George Toles (writers), Guy Maddin (director) Brand upon the Brain! / 2006
Since the mid-1980s Canadian director Guy Maddin has been conjuring up low-budget-expense and high-budget-concept films that combine surrealist-like images, outsider stories, and amateur actors to create films that tower over most Hollywood productions. For Maddin film history is not something to be studied but a treasure to be exploited, used time and again in his own celluloid fantasies. Early works of the silent films, of the horror genre, and exploitive sexual flicks marry sophisticated comedies and psychological documentaries in Maddin’s oeuvre, nearly always creating something arresting and fresh.
In early showings of this film around the world, Maddin presented the mostly silent images accompanied by a live orchestra, Foley artists (sound artist, recreating the film’s sound effects), and an “interlocutor” or narrator (in the released CD, spoken by Isabella Rossellini), a role performed by various figures, including Crispin Glover, Laurie Anderson, Eli Wallach, John Ashbery, and Maddin himself—transforming the whole into a grand theatrical event that might make an impression on anyone entering the dark territory (with flickers of Poe, the Frankenstein story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Hardy Boy tales, images of Dali and Buñuel, and hundreds of other such works) projects onto our consciousnesses, actualizing the film’s unresolved truism: “everything happens twice.”
Los Angeles, December 29, 2014