Dear Shaded Viewers,
Last night I had the extreme pleasure of attending the advance screening of Guy Maddin's latest film "The Forbidden Room". The film is long and delierous. Maddin said: “You want people to feel washed up, panting, on some far shore, after barely surviving a drowning in narrative.” In that and in all other aspects of the film, he succeeded. I was initially introduced to Guy's work by my beautiful friend the actress/director, Maria de Medeiros. After the screening I hada little chat with Maria, she plays in this film and had some funny stories to tell about working with him for The Saddest Music in the WOrld and how Guy is the biggest liar of any director that she ever worked with. She was pregnant at the time of "The Saddest Music in the World" not the best to be put in the most severe weather conditions, he told her how warm she would be , of course total lies…anyway no regrets. Maria introduced me to Guy. Years ago when I was a co-editor-in-chief for ZOO Magazine I interviewed Guy for our Cinema Issue. Here is an excerpt from that text which further explains his love for the silent film.
DP: When did you become so fascinated with the silent films of the twenties and black and white cinematography and what is it about nostalgia and artificiality that appeals so profoundly to you?
GM:" When I was in my own filmmaking infancy, I suddenly found it possible to empathize with other filmmakers from the infancy of the art form. I was, quite arrogantly, reliving the Edison years, the Lumiere years. At least I was discovering things for myself much the way these guys did, and I felt the same unbelievable highs they must have felt. Only then, when I started working on film myself, did I come to understand, or even want to understand, silent film, experimental film and all sorts of melodrama. Only then did I begin to feel how interconnected photography, painting, opera, fairy tales, dreams, sex and practical jokes were. It was like God vivisected the arts for me and let me look inside. I haven’t learned everything there is to know, or I would be a far more accomplished director, but the world became visible to me, suddenly, in wholly new ways. It was so exciting. Much like my attitude towards sound, I felt that I should be allowed to combine all the above-mentioned elements in any way I saw fit. Since I work almost entirely outside the industry, that’s what I chose to do.
For reasons I still can’t comprehend I was for a few years pathologically nostalgic. I had a lot of family crap to reprocess. I just threw everything I had under my control, and a whole bunch of stuff I couldn’t control, at my camera, shot it and cut it together and just tried to stay honest while doing so. For some reason this reminds people of silent film. I think what I make is more closely related to fairy tales, actually. Fairy tales are ancient, but timeless. For most people, silent film is just ancient." said Guy Maddin
Another insight into his interest in the surreal, macabre and bizarre:
DP I know the story of how your grandmother accidentally poked out the eye of your Dad; I imagine that as a child the whole idea of a missing eye had a profound effect on you?
GM : "Well, on his first birthday, she clutched my dad to her bosom, where an unpinned brooch pierced his little eye. How heartbroken she was! She spent the rest of her life poking her own eyes out in family photographs, the poor dear. This sounds like a myth, but it’s true. A number of events in my family history, all the big events, come of as plot twists in an opera, and so I have never had any trouble making sense of otherwise inscrutable Greek myths, bible stories, ethnic folk tales and riddles. They just seem part of the factual continuum of life – and it doesn’t matter if something actually happened or not. If something is still being retold year after year, it’s more true than true anyway. That understanding of narrative and myth is the profound effect my dad’s eye had on me." said Guy Maddin
Back to the Forbidden Room -the film began three years ago as a live performance/installation project in Paris’s Pompidou Centre, where Maddin and his crew undertook to revive the spirit of one lost or forgotten film a day – including works by greats such as DW Griffith, Kenji Mizoguchi and Jean Vigo, along with other less reputable stuff. Each day would begin with the cast carrying out a seance, complete with mock ectoplasm.He gave great praise to his casting director and had lusted for years over Charlotte Rampling. After proposing she make a cameo in The Forbidden Room, "She said, ‘Guy, last night I watched three of your feature films, and I really enjoyed them.’ I said, ‘Gosh Charlotte, you’re sweet.’ She said – ‘I. Am. Not. Sweet.’” Other actors include " Geraldine Chaplin, Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, rising French star Ad