23 October 2000 | Bobs-9
A rare treat on DVD! Thanks, Kino
Will wonders never cease? Here is a DVD that I never thought I'd see. Guy Maddin's brilliant and hilarious (particularly for early film buffs) `Careful.' The plot and style of this film have been well explained by other commentaries on this page and elsewhere, so there's no need to go over it again. My favorite comment about it is that it is like a Ricola ad gone horribly, horribly wrong. Suffice it to say that the DVD is an improvement in image quality. While many of the images are intentionally vague, grainy or indistinct by the choice of the filmmakers, I get the impression that these effects are more clearly conveyed in the DVD. In a spoken commentary track with Maddin and screenwriter George Toles (new to this DVD, and obviously not possible on the VHS edition), Maddin admits that he wanted to add an effect through use of the color controls during the digital transfer, but resisted that temptation in order to let this DVD stand as a faithful representation of the film. While the effect he had in mind might have been interesting, I'm still grateful to him for his restraint.
Maddin claims in his commentary that people often obliquely criticize the performances of the actors in this film while, at the same time, telling him how much they like it, placing him in the position of defending those performances. Maddin states that he absolutely stands by the performances in this film, and that the actors gave him precisely what he asked for. This should dispel any doubts among people who see this film about the unusual, stiff delivery of lines, which might lead people who know nothing about the cast to suspect they are amateurs, which they are definitely not. This sort of line reading can be seen in some of the very earliest talkies. The antiquated sound of this film, along with its look, is all of a piece, and completely intentional, right down to the fake patina of noise added to the mono soundtrack. Maddin does regret some of the props and effects which had to be done on the cheap, due to budget restraints. Who knows how much more bizarre and fantastic it might have looked with a larger budget? On the other hand, it might have lost some of its unique charm. As it is, it's a wonderful piece of work that I find unforgettable, and that has remained vivid in my memory years after first seeing it. Copies of this DVD aren't to be found in abundance, and I don't know how long it will stay in print. If you like this film, do get this DVD now, and tell anyone you know who likes unusual films about it.
Near the end of the film, which hints at a continuation of the story, Maddin says that he may make that sequel some day. I don't know if he was serious about it or not, but I'd sure love to see it.