The silent film continues as a valid art form, particularly in the hands of the Canadian Guy Maddin, who has made silent film his natural mode of expression. His latest film is Brand upon the Brain, which is playing (with live music ensemble) at the San Francisco International Film Festival on May 7. The festival site describes it:
The semiautobiographical Brand upon the Brain! mines the rich territories of director Guy Maddin’s youth and spins them into a delirious fantasy of familial discontent. At the edge of the sea stands a lighthouse, once the location of an orphanage. There, some years ago, lived Guy and Sis, a brother and sister under the constant observation of their mother yet entirely ignored by their father, an ingenious inventor. When Wendy Hale, amateur harpist and half of twin detective team the Lightbulb Kids, arrives to investigate a mysterious regenerative nectar harvested from the orphans, things grow ever more complicated. A love triangle becomes a quadrangle when Wendy masquerades as her brother Chance and goes in search of clues. A fever dream of Freudian impulses and horror show theatrics, Maddin devours 100 years of film history whole and, like the ersatz Guy’s painting of the lighthouse, covers the screen with a 12-chapter outpouring of his various obsessions.
There’s a trailer for the film on the festival site which gives a good flavour of Maddin’s distinctive style and take on cinema history.