Introduction to the Forbidden Room
A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child
soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas
on life and love.
Surrealism.tv on the Forbidden Room:
The surrealistic film “The Forbidden Room” is a non-linear surrealistic film that explores memory and submarines, bathing tutorials and lobotomies. Maddin’s “Narcoticized Fever Dream” (James Adams) uses the grammar of silent film, loose association and other surrealistic techniques all in “glorious technicolor” and will leave some viewers confused.
If you want a simple, single, easy-to-understand narrative this film is definitely not it. The film does not have a logical narrative that lends itself to understanding, rather, Maddin’s masterpiece layers multiple abstract plot lines that nest within each other like Freud + Baudrillard on drugs.
Maddin’s film is in dialogue with conceptual video art, while some critics complained that two hours was too long, the eye-candy visuals kept me entertained. I searched for an easy answer– or takeaway at the end: “What the F— was that about?!” and was glad that I didn’t get it.
The Forbidden Room may frustrate viewers looking for a linear experience, but those seeking a challenge — or already familiar with director Guy Maddin’s work — will be rewarded.
– Rotten Tomatoes
Guy Maddin delivers another of his wild and whimsical fantasies, tinged with camp and couched in the film grammar of silent cinema.
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM is Guy Maddin’s ultimate epic phantasmagoria. Honoring classic
cinema while electrocuting it with energy, this Russian nesting doll of a film begins (after a
prologue on how to take a bath) with the crew of a doomed submarine chewing flapjacks in a
desperate attempt to breathe the oxygen within. Suddenly, impossibly, a lost woodsman
wanders into their company and tells his tale of escaping from a fearsome clan of
cave dwellers. From here, Maddin and co-director Evan Johnson take us high into the air,
around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception and
murder, skeleton women and vampire bananas. Playing like some glorious meeting between
Italo Calvino, Sergei Eisenstein and a perverted six year-old child, THE FORBIDDEN ROOM is
Maddin’s grand ode to lost cinema. Created with the help of master poet John Ashbery, the
film features Roy Dupius, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Mathieu Amalric, , Charlotte Rampling,
Geraldine Chaplin, Maria de Medeiros, Jacques Nolot, Adèle Haenel, Amira Casar, Elina
Löwensohn and Udo Kier (and more!) as a cavalcade of misfits, thieves and lovers, all joined in
the joyful delirium of the kaleidoscopic viewing experience.
We just have too much narrative in our heads, so much we feel our brains are going to explode.
With this film, we set out to create a controlled setting, an elaborate narrative network of
subterranean locks, sluice gates, chambers, trap pipes, storm sewers and spelunking
caves where all the past, present and future films in our large heads might safely blow! Where
no one will be hurt by the spectacular Two-Strip Technicolor havoc we’ll wreak on the screen,
knowing the whole thing will drain away by credit roll. Stay safe and enjoy!”
– Guy Maddin