My Winnipeg (2007)

Horses frozen in the Red River

Being their only successful filmmaker, Winnipeg, Manitoba asked Guy Maddin to make a documentary of Winnipeg; whether this was a fortunate idea for the small town is still unknown to me. My Winnipeg creates an extremely personal portrayal of Maddin’s hometown while delivering semi-factoids in a hazy, blurry black and white.

We follow Guy (Darcy Fehr) through his journey on a train where he sleepily recounts his childhood, his strange mother and his desperation to leave. He tells us that Winnipeg is full of people who sleepwalk and who hold keys to many places all over Winnipeg so they can sleep somewhere. The film feels like a dream most times – with images and facts that Maddin recounts and that seem real but are so ridiculous that they are anything but. Perhaps the most ridiculous were the horses that ran away from their stables because their stable had caught fire – they ran into the Red River and because it was the beginning of winter were frozen solid with the river and were part of an attraction that year for the residents.

That being said, the film is fantastically shot in a way that is reminiscent of early film – soft edges, weird focus etc. I’m not sure if he used a Super 8 film camera like he had in Brand Upon the Brain but the effect is similar.

I watched this when I woke up this morning early – still sleepy and not having showered. I sat and watched, fighting sleep like Guy and unsure if I was dreaming or watching the film. This was perhaps the best way to watch as it felt as if I was following Guy’s descent into sleep and escape from Winnipeg.

It was a fun watch, certainly worth the time (it is rather short, only 80 minutes).