As much as his 2007 “docu-fantasia” My Winnipeg mingled fact and myth about the man and his wintry home, we know this much about iconoclastic filmmaker Guy Maddin: He’s one of Canada’s most celebrated directors, known for his delirious, funny, and atmospheric work, all rooted in an affinity for old movies and dream-like psychology. After breaking through in the late 1980s and early ’90s with films like Tales From The Gimli Hospital and Careful, Maddin entered the new century with a series of semi-autobiographical films that brought him new levels of acclaim, including Cowards Bend The Knee, Brand Upon The Brain!, and the aforementioned My Winnipeg, which fused staged scenes from his past with a whimsical (and occasionally true) history of the city. Save for 2003’s The Saddest Music In The World, his first collaboration with Isabella Rossellini, Maddin generally hasn’t worked with recognizable international stars. But the cast he’s collected for his new film The Forbidden Room, premiering next week at the Sundance Film Festival, is a wonderfully eclectic group: Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Udo Kier, Maria de Medeiros, and Charlotte Rampling, among others.
The Forbidden Room has been shrouded in mystery. The one-line synopsis from Sundance: “A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.” The posters we’re premiering below feature two other actors, Clara Furey and Louis Negin, and have the suitably eerie quality of one of Maddin’s ecstatic melodramas. I talked to him yesterday about the new Criterion version of My Winnipeg—look for that interview soon—but here’s what he had to say about The Forbidden Room:
“The scale is enormous for me. It’s the longest film I’ve made by far. It’s not so easily reducible, by way of explaining, as my previous movies. It just seems to be about narrative, which I know sounds off-puttingly vague. I’d say it’s about how men relate to women, in spite of their extreme cowardice, but it is full of melodrama and uninhibited narratives, long stories compressed into short timespans and nested into each other. I hope it’s a real adventure. Plus it’s a texture-rama—it’s very colorful, very HD. I am pretty sure that no one has seen a movie that looks like it. Yet. I think they’re recognize that it’s a movie that I had something to do with, but I hope everybody thinks it’s a massive leap in one direction or another.”