Guy Maddin’s dizzily delirious 1992 film, Careful, has been called a pro-repression fable, a masterpiece of deadpan comic timing, a period piece evoking a time and place that never existed, and a Ricola ad gone horribly, horribly wrong. Utterly unique and yet evocative of myriad influences, Careful is a truly bizarre concoction created from the plundered relics of cinematic history and the dark attics of dreams.
In the remote Alpine village of Tolzbad at the turn of the century, people talk quietly and restrain their movements lest avalanches come and kill them. This atmosphere lends itself to repressed emotions – shown through the parallel stories of butler student Johann lusting after his mother (an old flame of the mysterious Count Knotkers) and Klara’s attraction to her father (who lusts after his other daughter), leading to duels and suicidal plunges galore. All this is shot in the style of an early German sound film, complete with intertitles, deliberately crackly soundtrack and ‘hand-tinted’ colour effects.