Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Saddest Music In the World
This plot suggests no doubt some kind of camp musical, a sub-Monty Python comedy. What Maddin makes of it is a comedy, yes, but also an eerie fantasy that suggests a silent film like "Metropolis" crossed with a musical starring Nelson Eddy and Jeannette McDonald, and then left to marinate for long forgotten years in an enchanted vault. The Canadian filmmaker has devised a style that evokes old films from an alternate timeline; "The Saddest Music" is not silent and not entirely in black and white, but it looks like a long-lost classic from decades ago, grainy and sometimes faded; he shoots on 8mm film and video and blows it up to look like a memory from cinema's distant past.
The effect is strange and delightful; somehow the style lends quasi-credibility to a story that is entirely preposterous. Because we have to focus a little more intently, we're drawn into the film, surrounded by it. There is the sensation of a new world being created around us. The screenplay, by Maddin and George Toles, is based on a work by the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote the very different Remains of the Day. Here he creates, for Maddin's visual style, a fable that's "Canadian Idol" crossed with troubled dreams.
The Complete Review here.