Cowards Bend The Knee (2003, Guy Maddin)

Guy Maddin: “My editor John Gurdebeke and I, hoping to release the powerful nectars of remembrance, have attempted to cut the film using a facsimile of the way we visit memories: We skip past the drab routines and the overly familiar events of yesteryear in our haste to arrive at our favorite and still potent recollections; once there, we rock back and forth over the cherished imagery, penetrating its pleasures, like a DJ scratching back and forth over the same sample of music, until we’ve used up what we need from that episode; then we race on to the next greedily consumed tableau of the distant past.” Glad to hear Maddin mention Martin Arnold in the commentary… the above sounds like something Arnold could have written.

The same editor worked on Brand, Dad, Caboose, Winnipeg, but not The Heart of the World, done by Deco Dawson, whose short-films dvd I will have to check out soon.

More bits from Maddin’s commentary below – all quotes are his.

“It’s the only one of my movies that I can actually re-watch with any degree of comfort.”

Louis Negin as Dr. Fusi [below] – cast because he reminded Guy of certain silent actors, particularly a guy who was cut from Greed. Also because of his hands, of course. Appeared in Rabid, played Truman Capote in 54, and returned as the blind seer at the intro/outro of Saddest Music.

Amy Stewart as Veronica/The Ghost [bottom screenshot] – “the ultimate child brunette.” She returns in My Winnipeg as a Maddin.

Tara Birtwhistle, replacing Alice Krige who got sick at the last-minute. Wearing “the same cheap wig I had Isabella Rossellini wear a few weeks later”. Tara played Lucy in Dracula, here portraying Guy’s aunt Lil and renamed Liliom, “a name I obviously borrowed from Fritz Lang’s Liliom, not even knowing that Liliom was a male name until I watched the movie after filming this.” On aunt Lil: “I thought I would give her a character in this movie that she never got a chance to be… In real life she’s just a sweet, bridge playing, tea-sipping spinster.”

Melissa Dionisio as Meta [below], “the result of some kinda local star search here”

“Sorry for all the blurry intertitles. I forgot to focus the camera. … I usually use intertitles to clarify the plot, but here they seem to be just giving everyone an eye-ache.”

Darcy Fehr, playing “Guy Maddin” [below], appeared in Hospital Fragment.

Chas, the impotent patriarch. “I’d been reading a lot of Euripydes, which I devoured like Mexican comic books”.

“That’s my mom, by the way.” [below] She was made to wear blacked-out glasses so she couldn’t see the autobiographical shame on display. “We filmed this scene without my mom really knowing. I have yet to explain it to her”.

David Stuart Evans, as semi-evil police/hockey captain Shaky, also appeared in Clive Barker’s The Plague.

Mike Bell as Mo Mott, of course played the engineer in Nude Caboose. Mo Mott is the name of an actual Winnipeg hockey player.

Victor Cowie as Maddin Sr. [below], appeared in Careful and Archangel. “The first actor I ever hired.”

Premature Maddin biographer Caelum Vatnsdal (the awesome fake Jesus in Heart) has a bit part somewhere.

“I like it when stories artificially tie up loose ends.”

The DVD also has a behind-the-scenes bit on Brand Upon The Brain! and a bunch of new shorts. FuseBoy, a 2005 short set at a fuse box starring Guy, Shaky, Mo and Dr. Fusi from Cowards. Dr. Fusi’s performance is actually edited in from his audition tape, also included here. Rooster Workbook (aka The Cock Crew), a mental blend of female nudity and roosters, the closest thing spastic Maddin has done to porno (closer than both Sissy Boy Slap Party and Nude Caboose). I don’t know who played the nude girl because he lists 13 actors in the credits. Zookeeper Workbook (aka Maldoror: Tygers) involves a man getting eaten by a tiger and a woman juxtaposed with a dog. Chimney Workbook has a girl welding, bunch of birth metaphors and I couldn’t tell you what else. Somehow related to Rooster Workbook.