Director: Guy Maddin
Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, George Toles

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


Careful is the third full-length film by Guy Maddin, whose earlier films, Tales from the Gimli Hospital and Archangel have become cult favorites. Careful is Maddin's most coherent and polished work to date. In this celebration of luscious color, Maddin uses a tremendous range of tinted color stocks and full-color processing, combined with a scratchy soundtrack, to evoke the feeling of bygone "talkies.”

Inspired by German Expressionist filmmaking, and more specifically by German mountain films of the twenties. Careful is set in the alpine town of Tolzbad, which Herr Trotta (Victor Cowie),a pompous scientist who is an expert on avalanches. has declared precarious. The rosy cheeked, buffed and scrubbed villagers must exercise utmost precaution, because anything more than a whisper may cause the mountains to crumble and bury them alive. The potential energy of the merest hint of passion could have epic consequences. Of course passions do stir. And this is the subject of Careful's absurdist plot.

Zenaida (Gosia Oobrowolska) is the angelic widow of a swan feeder and shares her home with three sons: Johann (Brent Neale). Grigorss (Kyle McCulloch) and Franz (Vince Rimmer), Johann and Grigorss are perfect sons. When not at home, they attend butler school, where they successfully become even more perfect. Franz, however, reminds Zenaida of her hated dead husband, and is kept locked in the attic. Life trots along at a happy, pleasant pace until Johann. who is engaged to Klara (Sarah Neville), has an incestuous dream about his mother.. Mad with passion, Johann drugs Zenaida and kisses her naked breast while she's asleep. Knowing he's felt and expressed passion dangerous enough to destroy everything, including the mountain paradise of his youth, Johann experiences a paroxysm of guilt.

Johann's passion triggers a string of unbridled emotional storms, which rise in this mountainous utopia like a boiling volcano. And as passions surface, Maddin blasts the screen with ludicrous deep purple intertitles, which highlight the characters' unthinkable Freudian desires. In Careful Maddin creates a world where erotic obsessions are played out in a magical and otherworldly climate.

Monday Jan 25 7:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Tuesday Jan 26 9:30 am
Prospector Square Theatre


— Catherine Schulman

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]