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Tales from the Gimli Hospital
     

Tales from the Gimli Hospital

Director: Guy Maddin,

Cast: Guy Maddin, Kyle McCulloch, Michael Gottli, Angela Heck

 

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Set in a makeshift hospital that seems to exist somewhere between Scandinavia and what could be a parallel universe, Tales From the Gimli Hospital is Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's surreal, black & white first feature. The film cleverly uses its own low-budget origin as a strength by re-visioning the techniques of the silent film era and early "talkies."

Overview

Set in a makeshift hospital that seems to exist somewhere between Scandinavia and what could be a parallel universe, Tales From the Gimli Hospital is Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's surreal, black & white first feature. The film cleverly uses its own low-budget origin as a strength by re-visioning the techniques of the silent film era and early "talkies." During a visit to their dying mother in present-day Gimli Hospital, two children are subjected by their grandmother to a long, convoluted story concerning Ainar the Lonely (Kyle McCulloch) and his friend Gunnar (Michael Gottli). Thus we are transported back in time to a Gimli Hospital of the past, where Ainar and Gunnar, two patients sharing what seems to be the hospital's only room, compete for the attention of the Gimli nurses by telling stories which get progressively more complicated and bizarre as the rivalry between them escalates. They are also treated to puppet shows by the nurses, and they take time out for tree bark fish-cutting and, appropriately enough, tree bark fish appreciation. Tales From the Gimli Hospital has an off-kilter logic and sense of humor all its own and is comparable to David Lynch's Eraserhead in its ability to create in the viewer's mind the pervasive feeling that we are trapped in someone else's dream.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Puppet shows take the place of anesthesia during surgery at the eponymous clinic in Tales from the Gimli Hospital, the 1988 feature-film debut of Canadian director Guy Maddin. Set in a surreal New Iceland at some unspecified time in the past, Tales from the Gimli Hospital tells the story of Einar the Lonely (Kyle McCulloch), who falls ill and is quarantined during a deadly epidemic, subsequently striking up an unusual friendship with a fellow patient named Gunnar (Michael Gottli). Beautiful black-and-white cinematography combines with highly expressionistic lighting and Vaseline-smeared lenses to re-create the visual style of the early talkies of the '30s, an illusion that's completed by the hissing and popping on the soundtrack. The acting, too, is deliberately stylized, with the performers relying on the exaggerated gestures and facial expressions typical of the early days of cinema and speaking strangely poetic dialogue that's shot through with Maddin's ultra-dry sense of humor. Strange, sometimes grotesque, symbolism pervades the film, with the hospital itself seeming like something out of a nightmare. The result is a haunting, visually mesmerizing film that is part F. W. Murnau, part Luis Buñuel, and part David Lynch -- a deft blend as bizarre as it is brilliant. The Kino DVD includes director's commentary and two Maddin-directed shorts.
All Movie Guide
Guy Maddin's debut feature establishes the otherworldly, unfamiliar quality that he obsessively cultivates in later movies, albeit in different forms. Dreamlike or nightmarish depending on your taste, this black-and-white reverie creates a world seemingly unencumbered by Maddin's self-consciousness. The dreary, timeless Canadian backwoods that the film is set in appears to have sprung intact right out of Maddin's id, which in turn seems to have been deeply influenced by folklore, myth, and, most importantly, cinema. Surreal and distanced, Tales From the Gimli Hospital is more concerned with eliciting laughter through its clever use of the medium's formal and technical elements, rather than expressing or exploring distinct ideas. With its hissing soundtrack and hallucinatory black-and-white, one can almost imagine the film as a recently excavated sample from a forgotten genre. Even at its 72-minute clip, Tales From the Gimli Hospital might strike some viewers as overlong and laborious. For all its perversity, the movie doesn't quite sustain its oddball singularity. Before it's over, the novelty of the film's look and sound and Maddin's peculiar sense of humor fades, and monotony sets in. Wildly uneven, if undeniably inventive, the movie stands as a fitting introduction to one of the more unusual voices in world cinema.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/03/2014
UPC:
0795975116237
Original Release:
1988
Rating:
NR
Source:
Zeitgeist Films
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:08:00
Sales rank:
14,916

Special Features

Full-Frame director approved digital transfer; Commentary by Guy Maddin; Short Films:; The Dead Father; Hospital Fragment

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Tales from the Gimli Hospital
1. Opening Titles [1:04]
2. Sunrise In Gimli [6:51]
3. The New Patient [5:14]
4. Divertissement [3:38]
5. Gunnar The Storyteller [8:48]
6. Einar's Frustration [3:36]
7. Snjófridur [7:51]
8. Einar's Bad Fish [5:23]
9. Spite and Malice [9:35]
10. The Fish Princess [3:35]
11. Gunnar's Rampage [5:22]
12. Epilogue [6:59]

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