2006, Movies

Brand Upon the Brain! (2006, Guy Maddin)

I didn’t go see this in theatres, with its live orchestra, and that is now to my eternal regret. Because I feel like that experience might have made this the greatest of all Maddin experiences. On the small screen, it’s just not quite as immersive as I assume it would have been in a theatre somewhere, with a live orchestra, and someone like Crispin Glover narrating (not that I mind Isabella Rossellini).

Maddin is inimitable – his films can only be called Maddinesque, nobody else does what he does – and he is probably Canada’s second or third greatest filmmaker. (Cronenberg being number one, probably.) But I find this not quite as compelling as my favourites (My Winnipeg, Cowards Bend the Knee, The Saddest Music in the World).

That’s not to say I don’t like it as Maddin is far too interesting a filmmaker in spite of his conceit – and whatever you might think of making silent films with antique cameras in the 21st century may be pretentious but Maddin is too entertaining and provocative for us to get hung up on that. And there are plenty of indelible images as well as a number of trademark (and effective) jokes.

But I do feel like the overall impact of this one would have been rather incredible live. At home on the couch, it just feels like another Maddin film. That’s fine, of course. He’s great, it’s great. But I wish I had seen it live and

I’d start elsewhere if this is to be your first adventure into the wonderful and bizarre world of Guy Maddin.


  • Directed by Guy Maddin
  • Produced by Amy Jacobson
  • Written by Guy Maddin, George Toles
  • Starring:
    • Gretchen Krich as Mother
    • Cathleen O’Malley as Young Mother
    • Susan Corzatte as Old Mother
    • Sullivan Brown as Young Guy Maddin
    • Erik Steffen Maahs as Older Guy Maddin
    • Maya Lawson as Sis
    • Katherine E. Scharhon as Chance Hale/Wendy Hale
    • Todd Moore as Father
    • Clayton Corzatte as Old Father
    • Andrew Loviska as Savage Tom
    • Kellan Larson as Neddie
  • Music by Jason Staczek
  • Cinematography by Benjamin Kasulke
  • Edited by John Gurdebeke
  • Production company: Seattle Classic Films
  • Release date: September 8, 2006
  • Running time: 99 minutes
  • Country: Canada, United States
  • Language: Silent
  • Budget: $40,000

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