Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brand Upon The Brain!

Brand Upon The Brain!
Originally uploaded by planetacid
Guy Maddin is a fascinating contemporary filmmaker to me. His films are unique in a way that I don’t recall anyone else’s being unique; part of this uniqueness is that somehow most of his films are autobiographical. While the films are not strictly “true” he takes obvious things from his life and makes them a part of his movies. In Brand Upon the Brain! Maddin has an actor play him and revisits his childhood home; to the best of my knowledge that is where the truth ends and the rest of the movie begins.

The film is silent and almost exclusively black and white; Maddin has obviously studied the techniques of film and decades past. Brand Upon the Brain! is an art film told as a silent film with a narrator and score; Maddin uses hyperkinetic editing and exaggerated situations to get his tale of strange childhood remembrances across. While I did not get to see the live performance at festivals and select locations Brand Upon the Brain! toured with a live narrator and orchestra; the DVD is narrated by Isabella Rossellini and is truly an interactive experience as you can select other narrators.

I really am stumped on how to describe Brand Upon the Brain! because I think it is a movie I will be processing for a long while. It is the story of a mother who alternately smother and spurn her children, and quests for perpetual youth. Guy’s older sister is the rebellious youth who is experimenting with her sexual awakening and wants to explore and experiment with life. Guy’s father is a closeted madman who has the children and (to an expent) his wife terrified of him. Guy himself is in the past and present of the film as he journey’s home as an adult to prepare his childhood home for his mother to see it before she dies and in the past when he is exploring and hiding along with his sister.

Brand Upon the Brain! will not be enjoyed by a wide audience. This is really a film that is only for those willing to undertake something new and different. That does not mean it isn’t a good film, it merely means that the film is merely too outside the typical movie fare that percolates across the theatre chains of America.

Director: Guy Maddin
Writers: Guy Maddin & George Toles
Mother: Gretchen Kirch
Young Guy Maddin: Sullivan Brown
Sis: Maya Lawson
Chance/Wendy Hale: Katherine E. Scharhon
Father: Todd Moore
Older Guy Maddin: Erik Steffen Maahs
Narrator: Isabella Rossellini

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