The Heart of the World


In honour of the great news that a print of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis has been discovered containing scenes long-believed to have been lost, here’s a link to my favourite Guy Maddin film, The Heart of the World. Maddin’s short is six minutes of frenetic genius which references Metropolis in passing although it owes far more to Expressionist cinema and the avant garde propaganda works of Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov and others. I like Maddin’s films a lot, especially the luxuriantly camp Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, but sometimes his eccentricities can be overbearing at feature length. Heart of the World by contrast is just perfect.

YouTube has a few other Maddin shorts including his BBC-commissioned The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (1995), based on a picture by Symbolist artist Odilon Redon. Also the long version of Sissy Boy Slap Party from the same year, which comes across as a crazy blend of South Pacific outtakes, Fassinbinder’s Querelle and Martin Denny exotica, in a style as frenetic as Heart of the World. Hilarious and homoerotic in equal measure.

I cast Ann Savage as my mother | Guy Maddin on his new film, My Winnepeg

(Update: Links changed to connect to Maddin’s own Vimeo channel.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé
Metropolis posters

7 thoughts on “The Heart of the World”

  1. My personal fave is Careful, though The Heart of the World and Tales from Gimli Hospital are close seconds. My Winnipeg didn’t really do it for me alas, nor did Saddest Music in the World. I guess I really like the highly mannered retro expressionist stuff and unfortunately Maddin is a case of an artist evolving away from my own personal taste, not that I’d ever begrudge him. I’ll just continue watching the oldies once a year or so…

  2. Careful remains in my all-time top ten, as well (and is now used as the title of my own irregular comic), although I’ve yet to see anything else by Maddin, and for years the only other information I had on him was an interview in Shock Xpress. All his work is begging for a BFI release…

  3. I’ve got Careful on DVD from Kino and all this Maddin talk makes me think it’s time to watch it again. The Kino releases are very good, lots of extras and far better productions than some of their other releases. After being burned with the Paradjanov discs I vowed never to buy anything of theirs again.

  4. Again, Careful was one of those glorious late night showings on Channel Four that seem to be so rare nowadays. Is it only on Region One DVD? All those studio-bound mountain sets and incestuous subplots… for a while I was certain that there were only ever two films budding directors needed to see: one was Detour, the other… Careful.

  5. Bizarre! I had no idea of the Maddin/Savage link until after my previous post, although it makes perfect sense: both Detour and Careful show what can be done under the restrictions of time and money… and of the unique worlds created only within the four ‘walls’ of the cinema (or TV) screen. Worlds of nightmares (Detour) or dreams (Careful). Come on BFI, get the Maddin box set rolling!

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