Tabula Rasa (2012) dir: Matthew Rankin
Judging by the work of Matthew Rankin here and that of fellow townie Guy Maddin, Winnipeg has something of a house style or maybe the city just looks more surreal than most. Also like some Maddin entries, “Tabula Rasa” takes its cue from a bit of local history, in this case the 1950 Red River Flood that submerged much of Winnipeg and necessitated the evacuation of 100,000 residents.
I love the boldness in the water use here. Raining from the sky and dripping down chimneys, spraying out of statues and firing out of a pipe organ – it’s a movie not shy about getting soggy. It’s during this historic event that Fernand watches from his armchair as his rain-pounded home gives way to the relentless waters. No amount of drip or splash will rouse him. His mother continues to carry about her business, making an appointment for the hair salon and taking an absurdly minimal amount of protection.
Meanwhile Marie attempts to raise Saint-Boniface. Saint-Boniface is the name of a neighborhood in Winnipeg, the center of Franco-Manitoban culture. It’s unclear if Marie is calling upon the citizens of this district or what but the result is the resurrection of the actual Saint-Boniface and at least a dozen souls as well. In one of several details that invite analysis and consideration, the saint’s arrival doesn’t come during steeple-top supplications, but while Marie fishes, a more practical act that requires some patience and faith.
No matter how apparent the disaster there will always be pockets of resistance to dealing with it in a practical way (or at all). So I’m told anyway, feel free to apply a modern analogy as you see fit.