Friday, March 1, 2024


Last month we looked at Cowards Bend The Knee - Guy Maddin’s semi-autobiographical love letter to both Canada and some of his personal favorite filmmakers (click here to read). To me - this film serves as a buffer for My Winnipeg. Like Cowards, My Winnipeg is also an autobiographical love letter to his home country but this time, instead of Bunuel & Lynch, he pays homage to the likes of Abel Gance, Fritz Lang, The Lumiere Brothers and Dziga Vertov…

I was totally inspired by just how far [Abel] Gance was willing to go - Guy Maddin, cineaste magazine

J'accuse / My Winnipeg

I read about Abel Gance’s La Roue and thought I’d never be able to see it, so I decided to make my own version - Guy Maddin, Art Forum

La Roue / My Winnipeg

The early German silents seemed to work in ways similar to the best fairy tales, though with an external hipness that helped me see just how modern, cruel and eternally true these fairy tales are - Guy Maddin, The Globe and Mail

Dr. Mabuse The Gambler /
My Winnipeg


Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg

Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg

Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg

I haven't seen a Lumière Brothers movie I haven't adored. And gosh I do wish I'd been one of the filmmakers who was invited to participate in that centennial project Lumière & Company - Guy Maddin, Offscreen

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station /
My Winnipeg

Maddin still does manage to sneak in a few Bunuel references…

One thing I do often - I watch a movie and I pretend Luis Bunuel is sitting beside me - Guy Maddin, Av Club

Un Chien Andalou /
My Winnipeg

Mexican Bus Ride /
My Winnipeg

Comparisons & homages are just one layer to this film. Maddin takes us deep in to his Canadian hometown...

Coward Bend The Knee doesn’t shy away from the sometimes negative reputation that precedes Winnipeg. While there are plenty of funny and/or quirky moments - this is a very cold & depressing story. Cold and depressing are sometimes common descriptors of Winnipeg.

Now...I’ve never been there so I wouldn’t know. This is why I’m choosing my words carefully because no matter how cold & depressing it might be - I have an immense sense of hometown pride myself and I wouldn’t want someone badmouthing where I come from (I wouldn’t compare the cold of western Massachusetts to the cold of Canada, but I know what it’s like to come from a cold place that often gets overlooked and/or misrepresented). But…I’ve had folks from Winnipeg tell me how cold & isolating it can sometimes be and Maddin’s film pretty much aligns with what I’ve heard firsthand.

I call Cowards a “buffer film” because My Winnipeg is an incredibly dense film that you don’t just blindly dive in to. It’s chaotic & funny and also depressing and informative in a dry textbook kind of way). I know that isn’t the greatest sell of a movie but if you like Guy Maddin or the aforementioned reference points - this is right up your alley (to be fair - I don't really consider what you're reading a "review" or an attempt to sell the movie. These are just my personal thoughts). In the film Guy Maddin mixes his personal relationship with his mother alongside the history of Winnipeg. He even goes so far as to cast his actual family members to act out scenes from his past in his former childhood home (Maddin really rented his Parent's old home from the present owners to shoot scenes in).

Imagine a tattered schizophrenic cinematic journal found 30 years in to the future. My Winnipeg is an honest attempt at originality but is also intentionally alienating. I mean, for those of you reading this right now that aren’t familiar with Maddin’s work - does this sound like something you’d just blindly watch? Probably not. I’m sure a handful of you would, but between the very specific Canadian history and not-so obvious cinematic references, I’m sure a lot of you would pass or get more familiar with Maddin’s filmography first. Either way, this is a personal favorite of mine but I recommend it with caution. 


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