Film

Fever Dreams and Funeral Scenes: Succumbing to Gravity on Garbage Hill

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This is the third installment of Guy Maddin’s production diary for The Saddest Music in the World (opening April 30).

DAY NINE: Lunch Temp. -28 degrees; Supper Temp. -39 degrees

Much more sad music to be filmed and first assistant director Jasper O’Brien-Moran has a fever of the brain. This morning and this afternoon our normally reliable captain stopped the shoot on the most trivial excuse, once claiming that the sharp snapping of our camera slate was dismembering the ghosts of dead musicians. After luncheon, Jasper madly commanded still more lamenting musicians onto the groaning slopes of Garbage Hill, our flimsy lath-and-chicken-wire mountain nailed together as the setting of a modest funeral scene. Onto the towering rickety structure to join a choir of Northumbrian coal miners, Jasper marched a murder of mariachis, an ululation of girthy Highland pipers, and a flock of fado nightingales, all bulging with bacon-rasher ballast, all heartily descanting their national musics from the studio Babel while heedlessly ascending the jerry-built scenery. Of a sudden, the structure let out one heart-shredding shriek, then sagged to the ground in a writhing mess of berimed guitars and plaid bladders. I had so hoped to add some verticality to Winnipeg’s chronic horizontal condition, but even a mythic hill proved unequal to the flattening gravity of our sad and supine city. And the weather raging in Jasper’s pate is all against us.


DAY TEN:

Today was Miss Rossellini’s day off, and Jasper fetched her glass legs from properties, took long draughts of beer from them without pausing to breathe, then donned both hollowed limbs like a pair of adamant stockings. From beneath once red ringlets now clotted with hoar, and from behind the blind disks of his iced-over spectacles, came the hot saltwater torrents of his liquid agony, and the loud moans of his queer affliction. Too much sad music. One of his brittle hip-waders tapped a tripod and shattered with a deafening report, as if signaling the irreparableness of Jasper’s broken mind. Propsmaster Spittle can blow us another shapely shod-bottle by morning, but he can’t mend our first A.D. Our sleep is all too short to write more. Farewell, Jasper.

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