At the time of writing we are but a few weeks out from the 84th Academy Awards. Extraordinarily, the two films most likely to be most showered with Oscars at this year’s ceremony are The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) and Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011), valentines both to cinema’s long distant silent era.

Perhaps this sudden-seeming renewal of interest in early and silent cinema, in its pioneering figures and in its aesthetics – whether in Georges Méliès’ magical innovations in what was then but a fledgling art form, re-animated in 3D, in Hugo; or in plumbing the seismic transitional period during the fade-out of the pantomimical glories of the silent era and the awkward fade-in of the talkies, to which period the narrative of The Artist is entirely beholden (along, reflexively, with many of its aesthetic elements) – is just an aberration.

Even should it prove to be such an aberration, this spotlight cast upon cinema’s olden times seems propitiously timed with a dramatic rise in critical literature available on Guy Maddin, a filmmaker who has long obsessively mined the tropes of cinema’s distant, degraded past – and indeed his own – to eke out a truly singular career, one for many years every bit as relegated to the margins and removed from widespread attention as Méliès’ – now 74 years dead – had long been.

This review will cast a critical eye over two volumes on Maddin published in recent times by Canadian university presses: Playing with Memories: Essays on Guy Maddin, a compilation edited by David Church for the University of Manitoba Press (attached to the very institution where Maddin enjoys a position on faculty as “Distinguished Filmmaker in Residence”); and Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin, a hefty monograph by William Beard published by the University of Toronto Press (1).

Playing with Memories

Church’s introduction to Playing with Memories begins with a quote from Maddin’s unfilmed treatment The Child Without Qualities, an ur-text rich in autobiography that is returned to regularly in both books. This isn’t the last we hear from it in this essay either: “Sometimes he intentionally separated himself from his favourite toys, and played with the memories of them. And then played with the memories of the memories. There were inexhaustible powers of renewal within these two homes for the CHILD WITHOUT QUALITIES.” (Church, p. 1) (2)

There is an explicit organisational principle expounded in Church’s book. As he explains: “In a nod to the collage-like qualities of Maddin’s movies, both new and previously published essays appear […], sketching various lines of exploration that form a detailed image of his oeuvre and the responses it has garnered” (Church, p. 17).

Reflecting the richly inter- and extra-textual nature of Maddin’s cinema, many of the pieces in Playing with Memories cite the same sources – certain ones, like The Child Without Qualities, several times over. Notably, they also regularly reference one another, making for a richly dialogical exploration of Maddin’s cinema, if one uniformly originating from a point of admiration. (Maddin certainly has his detractors, some even venomous, and it might have been interesting, if indecorous, to grant some of them a say in this volume.)

Playing with Memories opens with a foreword by Geoff Pevere, who asserts that “These days, on those rare occasions when people talk about ‘the Canadian cinema’, they cannot help but talk about Guy Maddin” (Church, p. xii). He muses over the nature of Maddin’s Canadianness, situating it – in what I consider a stretch – in Maddin’s “sheer beaverishness” (Church, p. xii) – the beaver being a Canadian national emblem. His claim then is that Maddin’s cinema is Canadian by simple dint of his utter bloody-mindedness, in his obstinacy in persisting with what is often a most uncommercial vision.

Pevere’s selection as forewordsmith is no doubt a nod to his early role in the mythologisation of Maddin’s career (something the filmmaker assuredly no longer needs any help with), a fact that is revealed in the book’s third chapter, written by Pevere. In “Guy Maddin: True to Form”, it emerges that Pevere was party to the Toronto International Film Festival’s acceptance into its program of Maddin’s filmmaking debut The Dead Father (1986), and its rejection of his debut feature, Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988), a rejection which ultimately served Maddin’s self-mythologisation and promotion rather well.

Pevere’s piece is the oldest in the book – Careful (1992) was Maddin’s newest release at the time – but he already nails a key element of the director’s cinema: “Maddin’s work, if nothing else, is a series of elements locked, much like the clumsy duels he loves, in the form of head-butting, dialectical opposition” (Church, p. 50). Words to this effect also come up time and again in other contributors’ essays.

In his 2002 essay, “Reinhabiting Lost Languages: Guy Maddin’s Careful”, Will Straw gives prominence to Don Gillmor’s observation that Maddin, in his trajectory from Tales from the Gimli Hospital, via 1990’s Archangel, through to his third feature Careful, has replicated the course of cinema’s early history:

Maddin’s oeuvre, viewed in sequence, is like the first term of a film-history course, beginning in the silent-film era: spare, unsynched dialogue, odd movements, black-and-white stock, claustrophobic sets […]. With Careful we are moving into the 1930s, using the two-strip Technicolor of Maddin’s childhood, colour that didn’t look real. Everything looked like a movie. (Church, p. 61) (3)

But Straw, indebted to Keir Keightley (4), notes that in recuperating long abandoned genres and aspects of filmic style, Maddin is performing the very sort of archaeological work that film scholars have largely forgone. I think it’s pretty clear, though, that that is simply a happy by-product of Maddin’s filmmaking. Church thinks so too. Back in his introduction, he notes, citing the example of the Bergfilm (the German mountain film), a form adopted in Careful, that Maddin excavates bygone genres “whose place as a container of cultural memory is long past, allowing [him] to obsessively transform [them] into a mnemonic for more personal issues.” (Church, p. 9)

Straw is much less on the money when he claims that “investment in the ponderous rituals of classical cinema is one of the qualities of Maddin’s films which work against the interpretation of them as surrealist” (Church, p. 61, emphasis mine). This is something I’ll take up below.

Balancing that error of judgement, however, Straw astutely observes that family is a cause of perversity, and never a refuge from it, in Maddin’s cinema. This is also true of the concept of “home”, whether that be Maddin’s actual childhood home, extensible to the family hair salon run as an adjunct to the family house, and his father’s home-away-from-home, the Winnipeg Hockey Arena, as well as the greater, increasingly fabled city of Winnipeg.

In his 2001 essay “Fire and Ice: The Films of Guy Maddin”, Steven Shaviro reduces Maddin’s cinema to 29 bullet points, some of which present an almost lone voice championing Maddin’s little loved and famously self-loathed Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997). Some of his other bullet points forthrightly rebut one another, as when he avers that “Maddin’s images belong to a cinema of spectacle, or a ‘cinema of attractions’ (in Tom Gunning’s well- known phrase), rather than to any sort of narrative impulse”, only to rejoin it immediately at the head of his next point with “At the same time, Maddin’s films are chock full of narrative, even to excess” (Church, p. 71).

Using Shaviro’s essay as a springboard, Beard contributes “Maddin and Melodrama” to Playing with Memories, an updated article from 2005. Beard’s chief assertion in this essay is that Maddin works with “melodrama” – those are Beard’s scare quotes, not mine, suggestive of the contrariness of Maddin’s adoption of the most heightened of registers to pitch narratives in so deadpan and absurd a fashion that it’s not often easy to grasp what he’s problematising or ironising in the first place. Beard, though, makes an important distinction, positioning the excessiveness of Maddin’s melodrama as “symptomatic not of an ideological sickness but of a cultural one” (Church, p. 88, emphasis in the original), a malaise at odds with society’s tendency to disallow the expression of “fundamental aspirations and primal feelings, in its repression of innocence, pathos and yearning” (Church, pp. 88-89).

In “Thoroughly Modern Maddin”, David L. Pike argues that Maddin is a “garage” (Church, p. 97) or “retro-modernist” (Church, p. 116), his vampiric obsession with cinematic modernism’s glory days – even commencing his analysis with a quote from Maddin that opens “I do feel a bit like Dracula in Winnipeg” (Church, p. 96) – suggesting a unique relationship between Hollywood and Canadian cinema. It also distinguishes Maddin from such varied fellow pasticheurs as Todd Haynes or Quentin Tarantino.

Meanwhile, insider knowledge is brought to bear in essays from two of Maddin’s best friends and mentors, Stephen Snyder and George Toles. Toles has been a major collaborator with Maddin across his career as a scenarist of some of the purplest dialogue ever committed to celluloid.

Snyder contributes a piece on how sexuality is tantamount to an affliction in Maddin’s cinema. He argues that, following the inspirational example of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s L’Âge d’Or (1930), the consummation of this desire is most… undesirable.

Toles reflects on the nature of his collaboration with Maddin, asserting that when that unholy alliance began, he found his most fruitful scriptwriting strategy to be pretending to be Maddin when he wrote, because “[t]he ideas and impulses that came to me were so much more deliciously unsavoury, unsightly, and extreme when I saw them swimming merrily up from Guy’s unconscious rather than my own” (p. 145). Toles’ list of Maddin’s firm filmmaking requirements also makes for enlightening and amusing reading: “Keep the dialogue fragrant, like honeyed wine” (Church, p. 146), for example.

Along this line, Donald Masterson contributes “My Brother’s Keeper: Fraternal Relations in the Films of Guy Maddin and George Toles”. He finds something akin to sibling rivalry in Maddin and Toles’ working relationship, uncovering plenty of echoes of the director’s troubled relationships with his older siblings in his films, not least the trauma he experienced in the wake of his elder brother Cameron’s suicide (committed on Cameron’s girlfriend’s grave, no less – Guy has clearly not been the only Maddin with a flair for melodrama!)

Dana Cooley’s “Demented Enchantments: Maddin’s Dis-eased Heart” is a highlight of the book. She argues that “Maddin’s forays into the forgotten realms of film exquisitely perform [Walter] Benjamin’s hopes for the medium, fusing form and content, theory and practice” (Church, p. 175). She goes on to explore the antecedents of Maddin’s ostentatiously tragic cinema in the baroque, allegorical Trauerspiel – “sorrow play” – a form popular in 18th century Germany, astutely arguing that “Maddin often makes the abstract of allegory literal” (Church, p. 177). She gets it right too, I feel, when she claims that “for Maddin, film acts more as a séance [sic] than an exorcism” (Church, p. 183), declaring that she “find[s] the idea of the uncanny [in Maddin’s films] a productive one” (Church, p. 179).

Elsewhere, Carl Matheson suggests that Maddin’s narratives can and should be read as dreams (though he insists he has to rebut his central thesis with the case of My Winnipeg [2007] before even really getting his argument fully underway!) Milan Pribisic analyses Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002), positioning it as a “theatre film”, a cross-pollinated product of a dialogue between (at least) two art forms and demonstrative, in a coinage worthy of Toles, of a “palimpsestuous originality” (Church, p. 168). And Saige Walton’s “Hit with a Wrecking Ball, Tickled with a Feather: Gesture, Deixis and the Baroque Cinema of Guy Maddin” considers the phenomenological reception of Cowards Bend the Knee: or, The Blue Hands (2003) and Brand Upon the Brain! (2006), and examines how “Maddin and the baroque partake in highly gestural displays of emotion” (Church, p. 213). In so doing, she charts the course of affect from its origins in the extravagant hand gesturing found on-screen through to the receptive, and affected, viewer.

While Walton’s essay successfully straddles the delicate line between theory which illuminates both cinema and itself, and theory which exploits its subject as proof of a particular concept, Darrell Varga’s “Desire in Bondage: Guy Maddin’s Careful” is far less successful in its examination of the director’s third feature as filtered through Nietzsche’s writings on tragedy. I’m afraid I feel none the wiser about Maddin’s cinema after reading Varga’s contribution and am not convinced it warranted inclusion in the book.

Lee Easton and Kelly Hewson’s “‘I’m Not an American, I’m a Nymphomaniac’: Perverting the Nation in Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World” is, to be honest, a bit of a trifle. Born expressly of student responses to screenings of Maddin’s near-crossover-hit from 2004, it does nevertheless impress by highlighting that Maddin’s outré cinema is on the Canadian curriculum! But it is to Easton and Hewson’s credit that their essay engages in a queer reading of a Maddin film, in which respect it is surprisingly singular in this volume. It does, however, seriously overreach in its reading, not least when suggesting that the confederation of Canada in 1867, and the same-year addition of “nymphomania” to The Oxford English Dictionary, might be more than mere coincidence.

Beard’s second contribution to Playing with Memories, and its final chapter, is a very entertaining interview with Maddin himself (one of many undertaken by Beard in preparation for his monograph).

Into the Past

This brings us to Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin. Beard’s handsome volume acknowledges at its outset its debt to its most amenable subject, announcing that it draws on four years of interviews and other regular exchanges with Maddin, as well as a similar level of dialogue with Toles.

Beard commences his book with J. Hoberman’s well-travelled appraisal of Maddin as “the most eccentric of mainstream filmmakers (or the most accessible of avant-gardists)” (Beard, p. 3) (5). His first chapter, “Elements of Maddin”, explains how the director can variously be described as an autodidact, a silent-film lover, a cinephile, a bibliophile, a Surrealist, an avant-gardist, a melodramatist, a sensationalist, a jokester, a postmodernist, and a child at play.

Beard begins his thorough unpacking of Maddin’s entire accessible corpus with The Dead Father, the only short of Maddin’s to be granted such a through going-over, no doubt privileged because the

aesthetic engine of the whole film […] may be said to be a continual surprising juxtaposition of jarringly different swerving not only between documentary and expressionism in visual style, but between violently differing moods: the self-mocking and the eerie, the tragic and the petty, the horrifying and the ridiculous,

just like “much of Maddin’s cinema to come” (Beard, p. 21). Furthermore, “Much of the time […] the film does not oscillate between these poles but presents them simultaneously” (Beard, p. 21), a quality that is found across Maddin’s entire body of work. As early as The Dead Father, Beard is keen to impress, the die had well and truly been cast.

Beard’s analysis of Maddin’s features is of an unflinchingly high standard, demonstrating an attention to detail almost as obsessive as the work of Maddin himself. His book charts the progress of Maddin’s filmmaking career – journalistically and analytically – by examining accounts of the director’s achievements – and how he has sometimes been stymied – with each new film. It covers his career up until the 2008 short film, Glorious.

Into the Past’s highlights are many, ranging from the anecdotal and amusing – writing about Tales From the Gimli Hospital, Beard divulges that Maddin’s first instinct had been to imitate the look of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed (1924) and to title his film Pestilence! – to the well-argued and boosterist: writing on Maddin’s comi-tragic ode to amnesia, Archangel, Beard makes a compelling case for Maddin’s being “our Josef von Sternberg” (Beard, p. 75).

Moving chronologically through Maddin’s feature output, Beard then makes much of the Oedipal and Elektral conflicts foregrounded in Careful, and which run rampant through so much of his successive work, noting that this is the first time viewers “are in a position to recognise the film’s object of mockery” (p. 103). For who out there doesn’t know something of repression – as opposed, say, to the strange rituals of early Icelandic immigrants to Manitoba?

However, as Beard beautifully puts it, “Maddin’s and Toles’s form of filmmaking is not a hospitable environment for verisimilitudinous psychological detail” (p. 113). So, while the ailments of the characters might well be widely relatable, the characterisations and dialogue in Careful are wrought in such an impossibly arch fashion (though paling in comparison to one of the key inspirations for Careful, Herman Melville’s Pierre; or, the Ambiguities [1852], excerpted hilariously in the chapter on the film) that the affectiveness of the narrative can’t help but be compromised.

In his chapter on Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary, Beard is able to give an excellent account – especially if one flips ahead to the appendix to read his analysis of The Heart of the World (2000) first – of the dramatic changes wrought to Maddin’s cinema at the dawn of the 21st century, in the field of montage in particular.

We learn that Maddin had long wanted to speed up his films, but it wasn’t until he collaborated with a student of his, the lower case-favouring deco dawson, who served as editor on first The Heart of the World and then Dracula, that this was realised – and how! Beard is undoubtedly correct in giving dawson plenty of credit for the kinetic editing that made The Heart of the World the super-compact, Eisensteinian, “new creation myth of cinema” (6), mini-masterpiece that it is. But Beard explains that Dracula can equally be considered a watershed for Maddin, in that he abandoned a proscenium configuration for the first time, filming instead in a three-dimensional space and getting right into the thick of the action with his camera: dashing and whip-panning frantically about on stage – amongst ballet dancers galore – along the x-, the y-, and indeed the z-axis.

Beard considers Maddin’s apotheosis to have come with Cowards Bend the Knee, and with his first collaboration with another film editor, John Gurdebeke; relations between Maddin and dawson had previously irreparably soured. Cowards Bend the Knee undeniably came with a twofold innovation in Maddin’s work, which Beard describes in depth, including the “eureka! moment” attendant upon the discovery by Maddin and Gurdebeke of the transformative joys of digital “scrolling” as an editing technique (to-ing and fro-ing madly and at variable speeds across footage to create stuttering flurries of images, some of them subliminally repeated). This became a key way of advancing narratives in a dreamy, mnemonic fashion.

With Cowards Bend the Knee, Maddin’s cinema also suddenly turned expressly, if fuzzily and emotionally-if-not-necessarily-factually autobiographical. Beard turns to a passage from The Child Without Qualities, one often referred to in both books, to shed some light:

What vigorous and loving play these toys and couches and radios had been submitted to before the CHILD WITHOUT QUALITIES had entered the world. Now, as a result, a residue of better quality seemed to sit on everything in the deserted house. The house held a dormancy, a potential to divulge what it held for his family before. Every object in it was full and ready to discharge its payload of history. (p. 195) (7)

With Cowards Bend the Knee, Maddin’s cinema, in Beard’s estimation, transformed from a cinema “self-declaredly about amnesia” (p. 194) into one much more concerned with remembering. But let’s consider here an excerpt from Beard’s interview with Maddin in Playing with Memories, discussing Chester’s acknowledgment of his sadness, mid-death-throes, in The Saddest Music in the World:

Beard: It’s the defeat of amnesia in your work. That’s a big moment for you, right?

Maddin: And Maria de Medeiros, same thing. She has to remember. And the pleasure of coming out of your amnesiac trance – the reward, the happy ending – is you get to acknowledge a dead child. (Church, p. 264)

Remembering or forgetting – what’s the difference? In Maddin, both lead to appalling suffering.

Beard’s account of The Saddest Music in the World in Into the Past identifies one further technical “advance” in Maddin’s work the adoption of “push-processing” to greater increase the grain of a the filmic image. In so doing, Maddin felicitously degraded the images of The Saddest Music in the World in Into the Past even more than he ever done before, reaching the pinnacle of his mad quest to mimic the appearance of advanced material degradation in his films. The images were designed to match the fetishised but poor condition of the copies-of-copies of silent films he, Snyder, Toles and others had religiously projected and watched together.

I find it odd, however, that Beard completely elides David Wharnsby’s contribution as editor of The Saddest Music in the World from his book, especially considering that film’s adroit Slavko Vorkapićh-isms. Beard is otherwise unfailingly diligent in trumpeting the major contributions made to Maddin’s cinema by his collaborators. Wharnsby’s exclusion is conspicuous and inexplicable.

But Beard doesn’t miss the mark when he identifies The Saddest Music in the World as a deeply reflexive work, one which doesn’t require much scrutiny to reveal its allegorical probing of numerous dialectical tensions at work in Maddin’s cinema and in its reception. Such reflexivity is found once again in what is, for me, Maddin’s feature masterpiece, Brand Upon the Brain! Beard perceptively sees in the film “a reflexive model of its maker’s own psychic process” (p. 299) and declares it, after Shaviro, a textbook case of Nachträglichkeit (8) – a making sense of long prior events when memories come flooding back, triggered by some event or other (in Brand Upon the Brain! it’s a return to the family home, a “Mom and Pop orphanage” in a lighthouse).

The last of the features examined by Beard is My Winnipeg, which he clearly positions as both reflexive – after all, it’s Maddin’s own voiceover which claims “I’ll film my way out” (of the dreaded Winnipeg) – and as a surrealist documentary (he even pronounces Maddin to be a “card-carrying Surrealist” (p. 316) – a verdict I’m perfectly comfortable with). Beard also insists that several of My Winnipeg’s more improbable claims about the city and its denizens aren’t worth the trouble of investigation. He nevertheless provides extraordinary evidence to back up a few of these claims, lest anyone countenance the possibility that “If Day” might not have been real – perish the thought! Apparently too Arthur Conan Doyle really did make a pilgrimage to Winnipeg to infiltrate its spiritualist scene, amongst other darnedest things put forward by My Winnipeg and corroborated by Beard.

Lastly, Beard discusses Maddin’s numerous short form offerings, taking pause to rejoice in the “lost” status of several of them. He finds it agreeably apposite that Maddin should have several films of that standing, in keeping with so many of his long passed, silent era days idols. (Curiously, the filmography at the end of Church’s book lists far fewer as being lost than does Beard’s (9).)

Of course, Beard gives plenty of attention to The Heart of the World. Beard succumbs to a Maddin-esque contradictoriness in his reading of it; on the one hand, he expresses great admiration for one of the film’s central narrative conceits, that of a constructivist Passion, but on the other, he declares it to be “a stylistic exercise pure and simple” (p. 369).

The accounts he offers of Maddin’s other shorts are generally very good, and it is to Beard’s credit that he doesn’t overlook them. Maddin is, after all, that rare filmmaker who is every bit as drawn to the short form as he is to features, and makes some of his best – and most revolutionary – work in the diminutive form. It is a shame, though, that none of the contributors to Church’s book were evidently interested in writing about Maddin’s short films. That may even be the book’s biggest shortcoming.

Despite Into the Past’s 2010 publication date, Beard only gets as far as 2008’s Glorious, stating it to be, in effect, a very tantalising teaser for Keyhole (since released in 2011 but as yet unseen by me), which looks to be “the first surrealist gangster porno movie” (p. 400). I greatly look forward to testing the accuracy of that prognostication. This means that Beard misses out on as many as three shorts from 2009, including two listed in the filmography of the year older Playing with Memories: the International Film Festival Rotterdam commission, Send Me to the ’Lectric Chair (10); and the wonderful Night Mayor, commissioned by Canada’s National Film Board for its 70th anniversary and providing another moving-image creation myth, one every bit as “out there” as The Heart of the World’s before it. There’s also The Little White Cloud That Cried, Maddin’s unrestrained, one-of-a-kind commission for, and contribution to, the “LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH! Five Flaming Days in a Rented World” festival in Berlin. This helps highlight the absence from Into the Past – and from Playing with Memories, too – of any consideration of the influence that the queer and primitive likes of Jack Smith might (must!) have had upon Maddin. Such an absence constitutes a significant oversight.

The further Beard gets into his monograph, the more emphatic he becomes that Maddin is a bona fide surrealist. He seems to be a lone voice in stressing this allegiance. Perhaps this is principally a function of how unfashionable – how outmoded, even, like so many of Maddin’s other favourite film genres and devices – surrealism has become, in the academy, as elsewhere. Although surrealism is a most conspicuous lacuna in Church’s compilation, there is actually something else that’s overlooked in both Church’s and Beard’s books. Maddin’s various champions seek clues for understanding his singular ways in both the director’s biography and in film history, but give next to no thought to Maddin’s contemporaries. Some of these contemporaries can be found beavering away in other media. I can’t claim that they’ve influenced or impressed Maddin, nor vice-versa – though of course they might have. But I am surprised that no one in these two books was looking to make these connections. Take for example the brilliant comic artist Chris Ware, who, like Maddin, presents his stories using a visual language equal parts avant-garde and démodé, often favouring the cubistic organisation of the panels of his comics whilst pastiching 1920s and ’30s comic aesthetics – hell, he even regularly employs intertitles. He also, like Maddin, mines autobiography for inspiration, and has an attitude to masculine cowardice and melancholia that is of a very similar hue. In the same field of enterprise I’d also consider the marvellous Jim Woodring, in particular for his autobiographical comics, featuring bewildered and/or amnesiac protagonists, which are deeply imbued with a Maddin-like oneiricism.

But to focus too much on these absences is to overlook all that is really wonderful about both books. I won’t hesitate to say that Into the Past and Playing with Memories make for very highly recommended companion pieces to one another and, while not exactly exhaustive, will surely foster greater admiration for a very singular filmmaker.

David Church (ed.), Playing with Memories: Essays on Guy Maddin, University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg, 2009.

William Beard, Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2010.


  1. A third book on Maddin from a university press has recently been released, Guy Maddin: Interviews, ed. D. K. Holm, The University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, 2010. Many of the interviews that book compiles are cited in the two books reviewed here.
  2. This passage originally appears in Guy Maddin, From the Atelier Tovar: Selected Writings, Coach House Books, Toronto, 2003, pp. 187-88.
  3. Gillmor’s words originally appeared in “Start Making Sense”, an article in Canadian magazine Saturday Night September 1992, p. 36.
  4. Straw cites Keir Keightley, “The History and Exegesis of Pop: Reading ‘All Summer Long’”, unpublished MA thesis, McGill University, 1991, p. 80.
  5. This is an assessment which we know pleases Maddin – his pleasure with it is stated during his interview with Beard in Playing with Memories, p. 242. It’s an assessment which he is apparently “fond of repeating” (Beard, p. 4).
  6. This is Maddin’s description, from his conversation with Beard, in Church, p. 255.
  7. This passage originally appears in From the Atelier Tovar: Selected Writings, p. 187.
  8. Steven Shaviro’s application of this Freudian term to Brand Upon the Brain! can be found not in his contribution to Playing with Memories but rather on his blog, The Pinocchio Theory, in an excellent post on the film dated 27 July 2007: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=589.
  9. This is not the only factual discrepancy between the two books. Another notable instance concerns Maddin’s three Workbooks, bizarre short films made from all that remained of footage shot for an abandoned feature project after the rest had either been thrown out by Maddin in disgust, according to Beard (p. 383), or after it had all been incinerated in a fire started by vandals in Maddin’s garage (Church, p. 13). Church’s version of events is corroborated by the supplementary material included on Zeitgeist Films’ Cowards Bend the Knee DVD, which contains the three extremely fragmentary Workbooks as extras.
  10. Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair was created specifically to be projected onto the side of a Rotterdam office building: http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/director.php?director_id=43.

About The Author

Hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, Cerise Howard has been Program Director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival since May 2023. A co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque for several years now, she previously co-founded the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia and was its Artistic Director from 2013-2018; she was also a co-founding member of tilde: Melbourne Trans and Gender Diverse Film Festival. For five years she has been a Studio Leader at RMIT University, specialising in studios interrogating the shortcomings of the canon and incubating film festivals. She plays a mean bass guitar.

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