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March 08, 2016

The Forbidden Room

forbidden room french poster.jpg

Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson - 2015
Kino Lorber BD Region A

It should be a surprise to no one that I have dreams about movies as well as dreams about seeing movies. I've even had incredibly vivid dreams about finding hidden movie theaters showing the kind of films that might only appear in the most specialized of cinematheques. One time I dreamt about a volcano and a Korean character from a film I just saw came wandering in.

Probably the best way to approach The Forbidden Room is to think of it as a two hour dream about movies. Characters wander in and out of several different, tenuously connected narratives. The narratives, such as they are, as well as the title, are inspired by a variety of lost films from different eras and countries. The title is from an Allan Dwan short from 1914, with Lon Chaney in a supporting role. Men trapped in a submarine with an unstable explosive on board segues to a story about a lumberjack rescuing a woman kidnapped by modern day cavemen which in turn becomes the story of a woman haunted by the Filipino vampire known as the aswang. Everything ends with a montage of characters all on their respective collision course.

As in previous films by Maddin, what we see looks deliberately archaic. With unnatural colors, and the effects of mottling, this is like a collection of scenes from films rescued from the attics and basements from people who had no idea about film preservation or just didn't care. While the Maddin makes films that have been inspired from forgotten genre films from the past, Evan Johnson's contribution was to make these reveries possible with digital technology. Several well known actors participated, mostly in brief appearances, including Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, and Geraldine Chaplin. The commentary track discusses some of the films that were sources of inspiration, as well as the making of The Forbidden Room. The Blu-ray also includes a booklet with an essay by Hillary Weston that provides some sort of explanation about the film, as well as a humorous account of filmmaking by Guy Maddin.

Posted by peter at March 8, 2016 04:55 PM