Brand Upon the Brain!


Guy and his sister grow up on an island. His domineering mother oversees everything from the top of the lighthouse, and his quirky father experiments in the basement laboratory. There are also orphans where the adoptive parents later discover mysterious wounds. Another pair of siblings is sent to the island: the Lightball Kids, two detectives who are supposed to bring light into the dark. The sisters and brothers are torn into the maelstrom of first love, while abysses appear in the parents' house. Guy Maddinfrom Winnipeg, the snowiest place in Canada, has found a language that manages to record its own inner world. A film language that is so personal that it rewrites the biography of its author, it has assumed its identity. If he tries unsuccessfully to give the house in which he grew up a new coat of paint in the epilogue, then it is already too late: the most intimate, the family film, has grown into an opera spectacle, in the classic Maddin format: as a silent film with expressionistic pathos. The newly chosen genre of detective film announces that it will bring structure into the depths of the Maddin soul. But their unfathomability is too promising. 
Stefanie Schulte Strathaus
Der Protagonist namens Guy Maddin verbringt seine Kindheit zusammen mit seiner halbwüchsigen Schwester auf einer geheimnisvollen Insel, die er später erben wird. Ebenfall auf dieser Insel lebt eine Gruppe von Waisenkindern. Sie alle wohnen zusammen in einem Leuchtturm, der gleichzeitig als Waisenhaus dient. Guys tyrannische Mutter verfolgt jede Bewegung der Kinder von der Spitze des Leuchtturms aus, während sein Vater, ein Wissenschaftler und Erfinder, heimlich Tag und Nacht im Keller arbeitet. Eines Tages entdeckt ein Elternpaar, das kürzlich Kinder aus dem Waisenhaus adoptiert hat, rätselhafte Kopfverletzungen bei den Kleinen. Daraufhin machen sich die beiden jungen Detektive Wendy und Chance Hale – ein Geschwisterpaar –, auf den Weg zu Guys Insel, um den Fall zu untersuchen. Während Guy von seiner ersten Schwärmerei für Wendy völlig aus der Bahn geworfen wird, blüht seine Schwester auf unter dem Eindruck ihrer Liebe zu Chance – wovon die Mutter auf keinen Fall etwas erfahren darf. Im Verlauf der Untersuchungen stoßen die Kinder auf dunkle Familiengeheimnisse. 
Film as a memory
Interview with the director

Question: As in many of your earlier films, autobiographical parallels form in BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! the starting point of the film. Can you describe how you wrote the script together with co-author George Toles ? What memories served as the starting point for the story?
Guy Maddin: The focal point of my childhood, the mysterious, all-defining and explosive core of this time was the ongoing struggle between my mother and my older sister. The reason for the ongoing argument was that my sister was in the middle of puberty. The two never addressed this issue directly, but basically it was all about it. Even if hairstyles or skirt lengths seem to have given rise
to discussions, the presence of a young adult of our own in our house was the reason why the two women were in such violent opposition to each other
fell. It was clear to me that every memory of my childhood had to be built around this argument. George Toles suggested that the story be played in an orphanage because it would automatically have a large number of children in the film. It was also his idea that the orphanage was involved in the dark machinations of organ trading. Based on this, I decided to make the directors of the orphanage the parents of the main character - because which child understands what his parents are really up to? After George and I came up with some dark secrets to keep secret from the trembling children, the only thing left to do was to introduce the young detectives to the story. (...) Then I remembered the agony
my first love and how well this pain can be portrayed in the film. I combined all of these elements and was delighted to see how everything fit together easily. When the frame action seemed stable and understandable, I was able to insert the many details - memories from the earliest times. The film is actually a true story - just much, much better. 
Question: The film combines elements of different genres: elements of the expressionist horror film, the detective film, aspects of the Grand Guignol theater . Could you say something about the different influences that come together in your film?

Guy Maddin:Some time ago I read a number of Grand Guignol pieces and decided to stage such a piece at some point. When it became clear that I would be shooting in Seattle, I immediately thought of lighthouses, which in turn reminded me of a piece of Grand Guignol playing in a lighthouse that I really liked. I think it's about a father and a son, both of whom have rabies and are trying to kill each other before the next supply ship docks in their lonely island's harbor. I took over the glaring mood of the play for my script, which in turn perfectly matched the glaring mood of my childhood
reproduces. This mood was probably the reason why I liked the piece so much from the start. The genre 'juvenile thriller' could easily be linked to my concerns, because in my opinion youth literature contains many sexual allusions in everything that is said and not said. Young detectives repeatedly find themselves in ticklish, sexually
charged situations. And nothing is more exciting than imagining being young and in danger. For me anyway. The expressionistHorror? Well, it arises when the topic fits and is implemented on film with many long, deep shadows that are meaningful for the plot of the film, and which conceal the riddles. Shadows in black and white films are much more significant than in color films. In black and white films, shadows symbolize the lack of light and knowledge. In the color film, shadows consist primarily of purple-brown grain, whatever that may mean. A real expressionist film has to be shot in black and white. 
Question: BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! is the first film that you made outside of your home town of Winnipeg. How did this affect your concept of film as a memory? 
GM: The beach at Puget Sound (Washington State) looks exactly like the lake shore in Gimli, where my family's summer house is located, about an hour from Winnipeg. When my cameraman Ben Kasulke and I walked up and down the beach with our cameras, I felt like a little boy showing his lake to a new friend. We filmed everything that surrounded us on this huge lake playground. I felt completely at home in this remote place. 
Question: How did the casting go? Sullivan Brown in the role of young Guy Maddin appears to be very well cast, and Kellan Larson as Neddie exudes such vulnerability that when you look at him you know something terrible is going to happen. Did you choose the actors mainly because of their physical appearance, because it is a silent film? 
Guy Maddin: The casting director Joy Fairfield took the test recordings in Seattle and sent me the videotapes. Since it is a silent film, the most important thing for me was interesting and expressive close-ups of the actors. A meaningful body language is also very important, but I only wanted to see it in the second run. I liked Sullivan Brown not only because he looked so similar to me when I was young, but also because his
trial recordings reminded me of Jean-Pierre Léaud during the LES 400 COUPS era . He played very cautiously, brooding. The decision for Kellan Larson was made within two seconds - he looks and plays exactly the way I had imagined. 
Question: Was the film conceived from the start as a silent film with live music accompaniment? How did you get to work with Jason Staczek ?
Guy Maddin: I have long had a desire to make a silent film with live music accompaniment and to offer the audience what was on screen in the 1920s. I had in
mind an elaborate spectacle for a broad audience, just more lyrical than what we are used to today. Piers Handling from the Toronto Film Festival gave me this idea, which then took a while
lang wieder in den Hintergrund trat. Die Durchführung einer solchen Veranstaltung ist sehr aufwendig. Das richtige Timing ist wichtig. Ein Festival muss diese Veranstaltung wirklich wollen und das nötige Geld haben. Jason Staczek ist der Haus-Komponist der Film Company; abgesehen davon ist er sehr gut. Er war während der Dreharbeiten immer wieder dabei und spielte auf seiner riesengroßen Hammond-Orgel stimmungsvolle Musik für die Schauspieler. Er improvisierte stundenlang und verzauberte uns mit dem sonderbaren Ächzen seines Instruments. In dieser Stimmung fiel es uns nicht schwer zu glauben, dass wir nicht in wackligen Kulissen, sondern in echten Räumen arbeiteten
and that we were really on top of a dilapidated lighthouse from which we could see the sea. Jason worked day and night on the original 95-minute composition for months. The result is brilliant. 
Question: How do you imagine the work of the foley artist, the singer and the narrator on stage? 
Guy Maddin: Watching the foley at work is absolutely fascinating. I love foley artists. When I first met Andy Malcolm in 1992, he enthusiastically staged an acoustically sounding car chase with a car accident and a car accident afterwards, with no more than a hot water bottle and his thumb - I couldn't believe my ears. This person can make whatever sound you need in a movie. I really wanted to make him part of the performance. Everyone should see what he's doing. Of course, the audience should also see my film, but it will, because strangely it works
Above all, making noises unnoticed. I hope the audience will enjoy the alternation between the inside and the outside of the film. It is a similar story with the narrator, who is supposed to be reminiscent of the old cinema narrator. In contrast to the cinema narrator, who had to explain the film to the confused audience again and again in the early days of silent film, the narrator should not explain my film. Rather, I want the narrator to build a personal relationship with the audience and personally comment on the course of the film in the manner of Japanese Benshi . Both Louis Negin and Isabella Rossellini have theater experience.
I want them to capture the mood of the audience and behave accordingly, that is, depending on whether they heat up or calm the audience down, persuade them into an experience.
Question: Although BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! contains many recurring themes of your earlier films, its special modernity is striking: the kinetic style of the cut, the speed with which the subtitles pass, the handheld camera etc. The film seems to be much freer and different from the desired primitivism and the construction of your earlier films To distinguish films. How do you think BRAND UPON THE BRAIN fits! in your oeuvre ?
Guy Maddin: I hope BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! is - at the moment - the highlight of my oeuvre. It is a film without pastiche, rather a new mix of previously uncombined cinematic elements. There is nothing dishonest in this film. He follows his own rhythm, is neither slow nor excessively fast. I like what the film looks like and I love its music. As you know, the music reaches the heart by the shortest route, and since Jason has combined the music so perfectly with the pictures, the pictures of my film can find this shortcut directly in the hearts of the audience - I hope. That is the strength of silent film: it reaches people as directly and with as much force as music. And that's exactly what I hope for BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!
Against all the rules
Guy Maddin, born and raised in Winnipeg, is Canada's most idiosyncratic director and is known for ignoring all the rules and facing new challenges. Six years ago he made a moving homage to the silent film: THE HEART OF THE WORLD - one of the best short films ever made. He drives this passion in his full-length feature film BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! with wild ambition to the extreme. The film was screened at Elgin, Toronto's most splendid old cinema. Eleven members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra played the wonderful original music under the direction of the composer Jason Staczek, and the actor Louis Negin passionately told the film about a box high up in the auditorium; a countertenor sang several songs, and three foley in lab coats and with headphones
created the countless sound effects with impressive precision. The film's subtitle is 'A Memory in 12 Chapters', and although the protagonist's name is Guy Maddin, it can be assumed that the director and screenwriter interpreted the term autobiography very broadly. Maddin decorates his surreal scenario with wildly pubescent fantasies and leaves his living ingenuity all freedom. The result is a film that is often roaringly funny and surprisingly touching - a magical experience. 
Michael Dwyer, in: The Irish Times, September 12, 2006


  • Länge

    95 min
  • Land

  • Vorführungsjahr

  • Herstellungsjahr

  • Regie

    Guy Maddin
  • Mitwirkende

    Erik Steffen Maahs, Gretchen Krich, Sullivan Brown, Maya Lawson, Katherine E. Scharhon, Todd Jefferson Moore, Andrew Loviska, Kellan Larson, Cathleen O’Malley, Clayton Corzatte, Susan Corzatte, Megan Murphy, Annette Toutonghi, David Lobo, Eric Lobo, Sarah Harlett, Daniel Tierney, David Armo, Erica Badgely, Riley Calcagno, Jesa Chiro, Munya Chiro, Bailey Gibart, Frank Hughes
  • Produktionsfirma

    The Film Company, Seattle
  • Berlinale Sektion

  • Berlinale Kategorie


Biografie Guy Maddin

Guy Maddin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the son of Herdis Maddin (hairdresser) and Charles "Chas" Maddin (grain seller and managing director of the Maroons, a Winnipeg hockey team). Maddin studied economics at the University of Winnipeg and worked as a bank manager, house painter and photo archivist before becoming a filmmaker. Maddin produced his first film in 1985, and since then his distinctive style of redesigning and renovating silent film conventions and his international critique recognition have made him one of Canada's most famous directors. In 2003 Maddin also expanded his career to become an author and installation artist.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Filmografie Guy Maddin

2000 The Heart of the World | 2003 The Saddest Music in the World | 2007 My Winnipeg | 2015 The Forbidden Room