Brand Upon the Brain! (2006, Canadian)
Brand Upon the Brain! provides a link between Cowards Bend the Knee and My Winnipeg. It features more of a central storyline than any of Guy Maddin’s films I’ve seen to date, but it retains the fetishistic nature of Cowards while delving into the fictionalized origin story of Maddin himself, similar to Winnipeg. An adult Guy (Erik Steffen Maahs) returns to his childhood home, haunted by memories of his family, in particular his domineering mother. What unfolds is a twelve-chapter reminiscence that ends up in a darker place than most other Maddin films - Brand is filled with the common Maddin feverishness, but lacks much of the humor and playfulness that marks his other work.
At this point, Guy Maddin might be one of the most mythologized figures in contemporary cinema. In each of his films he is everywhere and nowhere all at once. Nearly all of his more recent films feature a Guy Maddin, often played by Darcy Fehr. I haven’t seen Cowards in a while, but I do think that there are some common links between all of these Guys – they’re typically observers, spies, voyeurs, and despite all they’ve seen, they retain some sense of childish innocence and naïveté. And, unfortunately, few of these Guys end up where they’d most like to be. Maddin is in his early 50s now, but his fictional Guys remain pretty much the same age. I’m curious to see whether or not Maddin will continue mining this particular period of time, or if he will eventually shift to an older, more experienced Guy.