“Well that was… strange,” is likely the first response many will have upon viewing this new batch of teasers for Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin’s eleventh feature film, “The Forbidden Room.” Die-hard fans of Maddin — a director known and respected across the cinematic spectrum for his radical and uncompromising style — may not be as surprised as the rest of us. And yet it’s hard to know, based on the footage that’s been made available to the public, what we are to make of “The Forbidden Room.” It appears to be a heady-looking dream narrative that takes a page from flicks like the time-hopping “Cloud Atlas” and the later, less linear films of David Lynch in weaving its disorienting visual tapestry. A new bundle of teasers have arrived to give us a taste of what we might be in store for, and if these brief glimpses are any indication, Maddin’s film is going to be quite the trip.
Shot mostly in public studios in France and Canada, co-directed by Evan Johnson, and featuring Mathieu Amalric, Udo Kier, Maria de Medeiros, Charlotte Rampling, and Geraldine Chaplin, the brief clips don’t tell us much, but are all the more scintillating for what they imply. Instead of telling us straight-up what we should be expecting, Maddin gives the audience an abundance of gorgeous and perplexing visions that seemed ripped straight from the subconscious of a disturbed mind, or perhaps from the occult itself. Here’s the official synopsis: A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon and a battalion of child soldier all get more than they bargained for as the wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.
Sounds wild. Check out all eight of the teasers below. After premiering at Sundance, playing Berlin, and hitting festivals around the world, “The Forbidden Room” hits TIFF next and opens this fall via Kino Lorber.