Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guy Maddin mentions Louise Brooks

Guy Maddin, the acclaimed Canadian director of My Winnipeg and other works, mentioned Louise Brooks in a recent interview. Maddin was at the Rotterdam Film Festival to promote a new short film titled Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair. According to an article in IFC Film News, "It's an archetypal Maddin film, conflating sex, death and film history in a manic seven minutes" The film's central image is that of Isabella Rossellini blasted out of an electric chair.

In the interview, Maddin reveals, "We dialed down the violence of the electric chair until it more or less stimulated Isabella instead of blasting her violently through the roof. We clothed her in prison garb modeled after Louise Brooks' costume in "Diary of a Lost Girl," and then we built an electric chair even though I had a lead on the original chair used at Auburn State Prison -- the one photographed by Andy Warhol -- a collector in Toronto has it. It was built by Gustav Stickley, the famous designer, and it looks like really nice furniture, but it had a few straps on it, it had some burns, so we built a chair that looks a little more expressionistic. . . . "

Last July, at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I had the chance to meet and chat with Maddin. He was a special guest of the Festival in 2008, and introduced and read the title cards for a Lon Chaney film. Maddin is a splendid fellow, and I really enjoyed speaking with him. He is passionate not only about film making - but film history.

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