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Guy Maddin
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The Saddest Music in the World
dir. Guy Maddin / Canada 2003 / 99’
subtitles: Polish and English
retrospective: Guy Maddin

Cast

Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillian

Film description

The Saddest Music in the World is said to be the most American film by Maddin. It proves that Maddin can reach a broader audience, if he only wants to.

The story, set in 1933 in Canada, is about a legless baroness Lady Helen Port-Huntley (played by Isabella Rossellini), two brothers, one of whom feels he's an American, and the other - a Serb, their father who is unhappily in love with the baroness and Narcissa (Maria Medeiros) who suffers from amnesia. The baroness organises a contest and she assesses musicians from all over the world, who come to Winnipeg. She will decide which country will be famous for the saddest music in the world.

The film was appreciated both by audiences and critics. The Saddest Music in the World is a glass masterpiece - perfect and cold. We will find the distinctive quality of Maddin's style here (with purposefully edited noises like in early cinema) and obsessively recurring themes (amputations, bizarre prostheses, amnesia, sleepwalking, human organs kept in jars, voice-enhancing machine, snowy Winnipeg). The Saddest Music in the World is a virtuoso's masterwork and it's a real pleasure to watch it although this icy piece of art lacks tenderness, so characteristic of the Canadian director.

Agata Rosochacka

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