Rock’s Report From The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Evan Johnson & Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room”

The_Forbidden_Room_01The Forbidden Room is an excellent digital/film hybrid that pays homage to the lost ghost of cinema and encapsulates the art form to its original core – dreams. Here director Guy Maddin introduces us to a form of narrative that is akin to dreams. I know this might be a redundancy, but dreams can become intoxicating in their repetition until you get the point that either the Creator, or the ancestors, or your unworked emotions – whether good are bad – are acknowledged. Be that as it may, this wondrous and imaginative film offers a Russian doll experience of vignettes within a film within a film as the media warps, bulges, sizzles, bubbles and then fades due to projector heat. A celebration of the physical media itself, here is a movie that releases the ghost in the machine of former and lost silent films.

At first I thought this wonderful display of technique would wear thin, because as the audience is piecing together the overall story arc, the form of micro short films cut immediately to another film leaving one wondering what happens. Then 30 minutes or so after that, it returns to the same story, but not at the point of the original cut, rather at the point in another “reel” (not all the time but often enough). To further add to this wonderful enigma each actor is in each film in some major way, as if to say each film, as older critics should agree, are separate universes.

Finding a narrative structure can be difficult but the climax makes it all worth while. This definitely needs repeat viewings to let its images cleanse and bathe you. To my lament (mainstream audiences will never see this, and I have to admit this was my first Guy Maddin film, #latepassneeded) this is a film lover’s film and the length and dream repetition might be too overbearing for the inpatient who need quick edits to satisfy their lack of adrenaline filled lives. If you happen to catch this wonderful piece of art work, please do.

four-stars4

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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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