Synopsis by Anthony Reed
A short, surreal film from visionary Canadian director Guy Maddin set aboard a steam-driven train as it barrels loudly through a snowy, black-and-white netherworld. What dramatic action there is centers around three figures dressed like characters from a Prussian fairy tale: a young boy in a dark suit, an old man with a white beard and fur-lined robe, and a beautiful young woman in a nightgown. Like his earlier feature Tales From the Gimli Hospital (but without narration or other centering devices) the film is a tableaux of fascinating pantomimes which imply wider dramatic action, but, disconnected as they are, thwart our desire to see the forest for the trees. Swirled with steam and falling snow, the film is not unlike one of those glass ornaments, which, when shaken, veils a miniature set piece in a maelstrom of artificial snowflakes. As with Maddin's other films, a whimsical and bizarre sense of humor permeates the very theatrical and somewhat Freudian goings-on. The film was commissioned by Koninck Productions for BBC 2's "Picture House" series, who asked Maddin, and four other directors, to make a short film from a favored work of art. Maddin chose The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Towards Infinity (after Edgar A. Poe, 1882) by Odilon Redon.