Cowards Bend the Knee
Marking the beginning of what Maddin jokingly calls the "Me Trilogy" (followed by Brand Upon the Brain and My Winnipeg) this love letter to ice hockey, memory and melodrama is cited by numerous critics as Maddin's most perfect film to date.
Originally shown as a 10-episode peep show, the story takes place in the hallowed misty halls of Maddin's twin childhood wombs - the sweat-soaked ice hockey arena and the dizzying perfumed milieu of the beauty salon.
A delirious hybrid of silent cinema, horror and noir (a genre that Maddin would return to for Keyhole), Cowards Bend the Knee is chiefly a tale of sexual and familial love and deceit.
In this tragedy of Greek proportions, weak-willed hero Guy becomes locked in a spiral of murderous acts after he cruelly dismisses his girlfriend Veronica to take up with Meta, a beautiful seductress hell-bent on avenging her father's death.
Shot entirely on Super-8 during pre-production of The Saddest Music in the World, the humour, visual style and pacing of Cowards Bend the Knee have become synonymous with the director's later films.
"It is practically indescribable. And it is pure genius" - New York Daily News
The Dead Father Guy Maddin, 21 mins, Canada, 1985, B&W, Digital Betacam, Source/Courtesy: Winnipeg Film Group
Amnesia, cannibalism, raising the dead...it's all here in Guy Maddin's first filmic breath.