440. Brand Upon The Brain!

I was already a fan of Guy Maddin, with his surreal storytelling, silent film obsession, and melodramatic sense of humor, but this movie still blew me away.  Set on an island with a lighthouse that doubles as an orphanage, the film follows a man (also named Guy Maddin) as he navigates the memories of his childhood.  The plot is full of suspense, but it’s so chaotic that it’s best described in terms of themes and characters.  There is Guy’s tyrannical mother, who sees and controls everything the lighthouse illuminates, and his emotionless father, forever bent over his mysterious work.  Then there is the famed teenage sleuth Wendy, sometimes disguised as her brother Chance, who wins the hearts of both Guy and his older sister.  I wish I could have seen this when it was first released, accompanied as it was by live musicians and foley artists.  But even on DVD, the frantic editing and silent-era title cards make BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! a mesmerizing look at the terrors of youth.


  1. I saw this twice in theaters. The second time was with Maddin in attendance. He signed the My Winnipeg DVD. I asked him what his next film was going to be and he stated that “I want to make a film about a House!”. Don’t think that’s happening.

    1. You’re so lucky! I really wanted to go to this event tomorrow (http://www.newschool.edu/eventDetail.aspx?id=59981) but my schedule wouldn’t allow it. According to the website: “Guy Maddin introduces a screening of Hauntings, his short adaptations of movies by great directors for which the prints have been lost, which he based on plot synopses found in ancient Variety magazines.” Sounds wonderful!

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