Article: Nashville Scene

Nashville Scene (October 29, 2015)
Guy Maddin talks about his crazily ambitious The Forbidden Room, a fake rescue of the century's missing movies

How exactly did you end up working with Ron and Russell Mael [aka Sparks, who contribute the theme song “The Final Derriere” to the film] on this project?

"The Mael Brothers, Sparks, they’re really well-known in some circles and completely unknown in others, but much loved where they are known. I started listening to them when I was 18. I never dreamt that I would meet them one day, much less work with them 40 years later.

But I loved them and then lost track of them for a while, then rediscovered them thanks to a mutual friend, Michael Silverblatt, who has the NPR show Bookworm that I love. ... I think I was the first non-author to come on Michael’s show; I did so as a filmmaker, and it had previously exclusively been writers. But then he had Sparks on, and we met shortly after that. We had this storyline based on a lost Greek musical, and we realized that we wanted to make it into a musical — it had the really indelicate 1931 title Fist of a Cripple, which is a really bracing name, but we had very little other information about it.

So the script wrote itself based on its title. It had to be about Udo Kier attempting to get his fist where it might not necessarily ought to be, and it all had to happen during the duration of a song performed in a nightclub. But then came the problem of what song to use? So I went to the Mael Brothers and I asked them; I gave them a few plot points that they had to hit, and within about 10 hours they had already recorded it, in multiple channels.

I’m very pleased with it ... though there was some debate among us — because Sparks are always about beautifully catchy, clean studio recordings, and the world of this film is a bit more haunted and gooey and scratchy — about whether it belonged in this world. But then we just decided that everything belonged in this world. And I’m thrilled with it, and they’ve expressed happiness with working with me as well."

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Sparks, Ron Mael and Russell Mael fan site.