“The Twentieth Century” is about an upcoming politician by the name of Mackenzie King who tries to become the prime minister of Canada during 1899. However, he has to choose between his love for a British soldier and a French-Canadian nurse. In this visual spectacle British-Canada is portrayed as a fascist entity, and the Québécois mystic as an liberal minded individual.
First of all I would like to clarify that I do not classify this as a film. Instead i would argue that this is more of a visual experience because the storyline itself is totally absurd and at times too ridiculous to follow. That being said, the visuals, and artistic expressions were out of this world and really worth experiencing. Moreover, during the first forty minutes I could really sense this kind of Monty Python-esque humor which is combined with something more dark and disturbing. I guess you can describe “The Twentieth Century” as a surrealistic, absurd, and beautiful visual experience.
The entire idea that British-Canada is led by a fascist leader (Muto) is deeply disturbing, and hilarious at the same time. It feels like the entire film tried to establish a parody, in a Monty Python-esque way, of Canada. I guess it also could be described as a self exploration of the national Canadian identity by the Canadian experimental filmmaker himself. One can take the opposite characteristics of the national identity (Fascist British-Canadians) and place them in different situations (powerful British-Canadian empire) in which the entire perspective changes. Suddenly within this twisted alternative universe the clubbing of seals makes total sense
This sounds like an amazing experimental film, and this is certainly the case. However, after forty-five minutes I had issues keeping track of the story because it is so absurd. It almost feels like the entire experience was an overdose of some freaky, crazy, and disturbing storyline which just lost its Python-esque humor and went into a full frenzy. The entire film is about ninety minutes long, but I seriously doubt that the majority of the people are able to take such an overload of experimental film. I wonder how this film would be without dialogue, and how I would perceive this film if it was capped at sixty minutes.
I think that it was a great idea of Matthew Rankin to use chapters in this film because without it, it would be even more difficult to follow this absurd story. Experimental films like this should be viewed in the light of Artistic expression, and are not meant for the general public. Additionally, international audiences will probably miss out on the Canadian/Canada related humor. One of my favorites was the following line of dialogue: “I hate norms, that is why i live in Winnipeg”. The fact that Matthew Rankin was born in Winnipeg shows that this entire film, or rather visual experience, was based on the experience and identity of the writer. This is great when you are Canadian, but at times it also might seem a rather self indulging Canadian self identity film (through parody) which excludes the non Canadian audience. There is nothing wrong with making a film for a specific audience, and at times (like this film) it can only be done in such a way. However, if you are not Canadian then you might want to skip this film if you are not interested in the visuals. Alternatively, you might want to take a Canadian culture course before watching this. Don’t get me wrong, i really enjoyed the humor but it is a shame that most of it was only in the first part of this film.
To conclude, I would advise you to watch this film if you are interested in a great surrealistic visual film experience. The storyline is acceptable in the first act, but turns into something totally wack during act two and three. That being said, this film has the potential to turn into a Canadian cult classic.
Directors: Matthew Rankin
Writer: Matthew Rankin
|Dan Beirne||Mackenzie King|
|Catherine St-Laurent||Ruby Eliott|
|Mikhaïl Ahooja||Bert Harper|
|Brent Skagford||Arthur Meighen|
|Seán Cullen||Lord Muto|
|Kee Chan||Dr. Milton Wakefield|
Categories: Film Reviews Cat