After the success of his debut, Tales from the Gimli Hospital, Maddin embarked on a film of greater scale, incorporating studio sets and a larger cast.
Absurdly comic and melancholic in the same breath, this part-talkie is described by the director as "a full-blown amnesia melodrama in which there is narrative, but it lies buried somewhere beneath a fluffy snowfall of forgetfulness".
The Great War has ended but the snowbound citizens of Archangel are none the wiser. Wounded soldier Boles ambles into town, taking refuge at the home of Danchak, who is immediately smitten with the handsome stranger.
But Danchak's desires are thwarted as Boles becomes obsessed with Veronkha, who he mistakes for his late wife, Iris. Veronkha meanwhile loves Philbin (her husband), whom she must marry again and again on account of everyone's delirium!
Retaining the handmade artifice of his first film, Archangel presents a more complete sense of where Maddin was headed. Co-scripted by George Toles (who would become a long-time collaborator), the film was the recipient of the prestigious American National Society of Film Critics award for Best Experimental Film.