Director: Guy Maddin
Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, George Toles

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Archangel is a tragedy of love lost amidst the mustard gas of war. A one-legged Canadian soldier, Lt. John Boles, finds himself in the arctic Russian town of Archangel at the outset of the Revolution and World War I. He is in love with the deceased Iris, whose remains he carries in a vase. Among the Bolsheviks, White Russians and Huns, the lovesick Lt. Boles meets the beautiful Veronkha. Believing she is his beloved. but dead, Iris, he falls madly in love with her. Veronkha, however, is married to Philbin, a Belgian aviator whose memory has been severely damaged by mustard gas. Philbin keeps forgetting he is married to Veronkha, so she falls in love with Boles, believing him to be her beloved Philbin. Meanwhile Danchuk, Boles's landlady and a White Russian soldier in her own right, rejects her cowardly husband and desires Boles's attentions. Ultimately Boles is attracted to Danchuk, and in love with Veronkha, hut yearns for his Iris, who is still dead.

Guy Maddin, known for his equally fantastic first feature, Tales of Ginili Hospital, adapts the aesthetics of the expressionistic silent era to this semicomic melodrama. With its complex narrative, stunning black-and-white photography, and scratchy, layered sound track, Archangel could be a lost masterpiece from the twenties. It is instead the provocative vision of one of cinema's newest voices.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

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