Brand Upon the Brain!
The second instalment in the "Me Trilogy" (beginning with Cowards Bend the Knee and ending with My Winnipeg) is a giddy, woozy tale of teenage lust, cannibalism, blackmail and orphan terror narrated by Isabella Rossellini.
Commissioned by The Film Company and shot entirely outside of Canada, Maddin's silent Super8 feature was originally presented as a live theatrical event complete with foley artists, musicians and a live narrator (some of which have included Lou Reed, Crispin Glover, Geraldine Chaplin and Louis Negin).
Enthused by the origins of teen detective franchises, the simple craziness and insanity of the Grand Guignol play structures and family memories, Maddin turned to collaborator George Toles. He suggested that all these inspirations could be hung on a tale of a lighthouse-dwelling family who run an orphanage and harbour a very dark secret.
Transposing his unique visual language to an almost entirely exterior location, the film has a reckless and fast paced energy as it lurches from horror to humour, often in the same breath.
Underpinned by a great score and fine performances all round, the film is one of Maddin's finest efforts.
It's My Mother's Birthday Guy Maddin, 4 mins, Canada, 2008, B&W, Betacam SP, Source/Courtesy: Winnipeg Film Group
A man who sings like a bird and a basement full of Brand-style orphans set to the tune of Arthur Tracy's 1938 recording, 'It's My Mother's Birthday Today'.