A herd of horses frozen in a river. A bargain bridge. Seances. Golden Boy pageants. A demolished hockey arena. St. Mary’s Academy for Girls. Spanky the dog. An epidemic of sleepwalking.
The Winnipeg of Guy Maddin, the world’s foremost cinéaste planant, is not the Winnipeg of tourist brochures. When the iconoclastic auteur of The Saddest Music in the World and Brand upon the Brain! decided to tackle the subject of his hometown, it could only have become a ‘docu-fantasia,’ melange of personal history, civic tragedy and mystical hypothesizing. He relates historical information, from the factual to the dubious, and returns to his childhood home with actors hired to replicate his family (including B-movie icon Ann Savage as his mother) and revisit traumatic scenes from his youth. Through it all we see a man on a train trying feverishly, again, continuously, to leave his hometown.
Wildly delirious, deeply personal, and deliciously entertaining, My Winnipeg was the opening night selection at the Berlin Film Festival’s Forum and has received rave reviews worldwide.
At the heart of the film is Maddin’s voiceover, told in his infamous purplish prose. The book offers up this narration — extensively annotated by Maddin with a cornucopia of illuminating arcana.Venture deeper into the mind of Maddin with marginal digressions, stills, outtakes, childhood photos, animations, diary entries, collages, archival images and nascent treatments. There is a hand-drawn map of Maddin’s personal landmarks. There is an interview between Ann Savage and Maddin’s mother, and between Maddin and Michael Ondaatje. There’s even an x-ray of Spanky the dog.