Tales from the Gimli Hospital
Delving into the recesses of his Icelandic-Canadian heritage, Maddin's debut was a darkly comic, mock-heroic drama set on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.
In a Gimli of old, Einar the Lonely (Maddin favourite Kyle McCulloch) succumbs to the smallpox epidemic sweeping the pioneer population.
Banished to quarantine, he befriends Gunnar; when they are not competing for affection from the beautiful nurses, tales are told and a shocking secret is revealed! "O Gunnar," exclaims Einar, "I too have a bad fish in my net."
Shot over 18 months (primarily in his late Aunt's beauty salon), Maddin found that "the shadow was the cheapest prop". Harnessing primitive cinema techniques, Tales from the Gimli Hospital inches ever closer to the stylistic outputs of Weimar-era Expressionism. On release, aesthetic and narrative parallels were also drawn with contemporary films such as David Lynch's Eraserhead.
With its compelling marriage of horror, abstraction and taboo subjects, Tales from the Gimli Hospital became an instant 'midnight movie' hit that introduced Maddin's distinctive voice to the world.
Barber Gull Rub Matthew Rankin, 3 mins, Canada, 2008, B&W, Digital Betacam, Source/Courtesy: Winnipeg Film Group
What do you do when Guy Maddin asks for a volunteer to be smothered in Vaseline and rubbed with a dead seagull? You say 'Yes!'