Saturday, August 16, 2008

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN (Guy Maddin, 2006, Canada) Guy Maddin’s terrifying vision is an assault upon the ID; a nightmarish nectar mined directly from the unconscious without refinement. He is not so much concerned with a cohesive narrative as he is with leaving an imprint upon our psyche, a brand upon the brain. The fictional doppelganger Guy Maddin travels back to the demented orphanage of his youth: a lighthouse dominated by his tyrannical mother. His childhood is like a Charles Dickens novel as imagined by Franz Kafka, a fearful remembrance that breaks the roiling surface of his stream of consciousness, no longer submerged. He begins to relive this trauma through the murk of repressed guilt and anxiety. Guy’s emotional foundation is crumbling, the façade now only a thin veneer of whitewash that can no longer hide these congenital structural weaknesses. The past is catching up with Guy, he remembers: His mother kills with kindness, she smothers with smooches, and her Sauron-like eye sees all darkly, deep into the soul. Her very love destroys Guy and his sister, transforming them into the very thing they despise: their mother. She fosters a disturbing obsession with Guy, a sinister undercurrent of repressed sexuality, which leaves the children scarred and confused unable to differentiate genders. His childhood crush on Wendy traps him in a Peter Pan world of self-delusion that will haunt him into adulthood: his emotional growth is impeded. Mother also harvests the nectar from the brainstems of the orphans too fuel her selfish fantasy of becoming a child again, of regaining her lost innocence. Their drone father offers them no affection, only long hours of labor at the mother’s command. Guy’s only role model is a broken man who can do nothing but create unique inventions: he clacks away in his workshop like a broken machine. An unnamed female who imparts omniscient knowledge to the viewer narrates the film. Is this Guy’s alter ego? Is it the lost girl Wendy? The story’s insane logic is propelled by a beautiful orchestral performance that underscores the entire drama. The (mostly) black and white cinematography is reminiscent of Dreyer as Guy Maddin (the director) is able to capture Truth and Nightmare in a single frame; he is able to peer into the Abyss of the psyche to reveal the devil inside…who stares back. The hyper-kinetic editing belies the silent film era visuals but these disparate elements mesh and give birth to a satisfying whole. The genre (gender?) bending Guy Maddin is in a world all of his own; we should thank him for the invitation. (A)


Albert said...

Having served her sentence as muse to mind-fuck artist David Lynch, Ms. Rosselini is now entangled in the deranged web of mind-fuck extraordinaire Guy Maddin.
Does she deserve our pity or our praise?


d francis said...

Geez,how did I miss this one?
Sound's like a must see.