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The Forbidden Room

The Forbidden Room

Oct. 07, 2015 Canada128 Min.
Your rating: 0
8.8 1,655 votes

Video trailer


Guy Maddin


Louis Negin isMarv / Smithy / Mars / Organizer / Mr. Lanyon
Marv / Smithy / Mars / Organizer / Mr. Lanyon
Udo Kier isCount Yugh / The Butler / The Dead Father / Guard / Pharmacist
Count Yugh / The Butler / The Dead Father / Guard / Pharmacist
Gregory Hlady isJarvis / Dr. Deane / A Husband
Jarvis / Dr. Deane / A Husband
Mathieu Amalric isThadeusz M___ / Ostler
Thadeusz M___ / Ostler
Noël Burton isWolf / Pilot / The Captain
Wolf / Pilot / The Captain
Geraldine Chaplin isThe Master Passion / Nursemaid / Aunt Chance
The Master Passion / Nursemaid / Aunt Chance
Paul Ahmarani isDr. Deng / Speedy
Dr. Deng / Speedy


A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.

The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room
Original titleThe Forbidden Room
IMDb Rating6.2 2,162 votes
TMDb Rating6.6 26 votes

(14) comments

  • RizzlenessJanuary 29, 2015Reply

    A journey to the center of film

    This film, like all those of Guy Maddin, has married the weirdness of
    David Lynch with the love of film and quirkiness of Wes Anderson, all
    wrapped up in a unique visual style like no other. It’s absolutely
    gorgeous, a true adventure in filmmaking and film watching filled with
    dreams- within-dreams and stories-within-stories. It is like a love
    letter to the history of movies that blends silent films, noir, action,
    myth, comedy, musicals, and even instructional films into an absurd,
    self-referential ball.

    But before you go running out to see it, you should know that it has
    zero interest in entertaining you. Seriously. It’s dense, confusing and
    difficult to follow, and a tedious slog. There’s no plot, if by plot
    you mean something that will emotionally resonate with you and keep you
    engaged with following the story or characters. Viewers should be the
    kind of masochist film geeks who enjoy subjecting themselves to such
    pain and then feel enlightened for doing so.

  • JvH48April 27, 2015Reply

    Five intertwined stories without a common theme failed to provide for interesting contents

    Saw this at the IMAGINE film festival 2015 in Amsterdam. Walked out
    after one hour, nearly half of the 130 minutes running time. I did not
    understand a thing about what it was all about from the outset, but I
    allowed it some slack due to the overly positive introductory talk by
    the festival’s artistic director. He told us about the abundance of
    references to films from the silent period (I don’t think I care). The
    format is blatantly weird in taking trouble to look like a film from
    the silent period, with seemingly missing pieces and imperfect
    material, though we know that this film is recently made, as such
    leading to the conclusion that these imperfections are added as a
    gimmick and defeating any useful purpose. It may resonate with film
    professionals, however, but what do I know.

    There is no edible story (actually five stories I’ve heard or read
    somewhere, craft-fully intertwined). I could not derive anything in
    common that could have served as a binding theme. It may be so that the
    binding element(s) were to be revealed later on, but I did not wait
    until the final revelation, and left. Anyway, other festival visitors
    who sat it out until the very end, did not make much of it either, as
    it scored a lowly 36th (out of 45) place for the audience award with
    average score 6.78 (out of 10).

  • JahfulSeptember 28, 2015Reply

    Non-Linear Masterpiece

    OK, if you hate the way Yorgos Lanthimos just terminates movies right
    before the dénouement, or if you kinda hated how nonsensical
    Mullholland Drive was (please, just watch it again, really), The
    Forbidden Room is not recommended viewing. This is a movie for people
    who are in love with the visual art-form of cinema, the technical
    history of it (especially full-colour processing), and who have an
    absolute love of classic pre-code movies. And those who may have
    accidentally tried a cup of mushroom tea. There is no linear story arc,
    but there are many snippets of a beautifully reimagined bygone age.
    Don’t be afraid. It’s super-watchable and actually has some high-brow
    humour in it, It has Charlotte Rampling and the utterly fantastic Louis
    Negin, and the visual film treatments are just unbelievable. This is a
    movie for all levels of consciousness simultaneously. I have to give
    this movie a 10 because for me, it’s so spectacular it couldn’t be any
    less. Forget Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is the real thing.
    (Sorry Terry, I’m sure you’ll understand.)

  • andychrist27December 4, 2015Reply

    Might reward a patient viewer

    I had a strange experience with this one. I was ready to walk out after
    an hour or so (and many people did walk out)…but I’m glad I didn’t.
    It simply takes time to see that there is a structure behind all this
    madness and different story layers do fit in together and compose a
    meaningful whole.

    To be fair, this one is definitely not for everyone. It requires
    patience and at least some kind of appreciation towards the absurd to
    really get into this film. But it can reward you if you give it a try.
    For a lack of better comparison, I would mention INLAND EMPIRE here
    (not that the methods used by Maddin/Johnson are similar to
    Lynch’s…but the overall effect is somewhat close to it). In the end,
    both of those movies build themselves into some kind of emotional
    rapture which overcomes the analytical mind.

    Or maybe you’ll simply hate this movie, which is pretty likely too.

  • euroGaryDecember 15, 2015Reply

    Maddin’s most impenetrable yet

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • David EastmanFebruary 19, 2016Reply

    Berlin to Bogata

    On the face of it, this silly story within story romp through Saturday
    morning films of a previous generation should be ignored.

    It is not a pastiche – and the strange punk lurid dream style is both
    art and annoyance. But the style is to no useful end.

    And to force an audience to revisit bad early American cinema
    ‘somewhere between Berlin and Bogotá’ for 2 hours, with gentle mocking
    of early 20th century sexual strictures, is quite unfair.

    It plays out as being more appropriate for a repeating segment in a
    high concept sketch show than a cinema production. A short experiment
    of 15 minutes maybe. But to inflict real people to this at full film
    length seems strangely tragic.

  • vintagebrummieMarch 8, 2016Reply

    Highly underrated masterpiece.

    I was completely blown away by all of it. From the dazzling aesthetics,
    to how bizarre it was, and strangely of all, to just how hilarious it
    was. ”The Forbidden Room” is simply a groundbreaking piece of work that
    unfortunately a lot of people will lose patience with – perhaps due to
    its two hour + running time, its non-linear narrative or maybe people
    wont find its sense of humour funny.

    Nonetheless, I found myself entranced by the whole thing. Part silent
    film, full surreal film, it’s definitely made me want to check out Guy
    Maddin’s previous work, and this could just be the best comedy film of
    the decade so far – putting it above my favourites: ”The Lobster”,
    ”Submarine” & ”Moonrise Kingdom”.

    All in all, if you like art-house or unconventional films and have a
    bit of patience, I’m sure you’ll love this one.

  • Frank DuFontaineMarch 13, 2016Reply

    Poetic like a Thomas Bernhard novel

    I realize that a lot of people are going to be put off by the abstract,
    artistic nature of this film. But what it lacks in cohesion, it more
    than makes up for in style – similar to poetry, this film is very
    expressive and doesn’t follow any particular norms for film making.
    It’s very visually striking, and for me this was a large part of the
    enjoyment. Although it has references to films from the silent film
    era, this film doesn’t necessarily keep to a specific style. At times
    it is sensual and erotic, at other times it’s violent and shocking. I
    believe the intent was to adhere to a certain randomness in both the
    events portrayed, as well as the tone and visual style; this makes the
    film follow a seemingly arbitrary path. To me it was visually beautiful
    and compelling, and I never lost interest. I was impressed by how
    ambitious it was, with a huge variety of scenes, actors, events.
    Obviously, the film is very nonlinear and I think the best way to enjoy
    it is with the expectation of a visual and thematic journey, a series
    of emotional and artistic events strung loosely together to form a
    dreamlike storyline.

  • LeonLouisRicciMarch 16, 2016Reply

    Eye-Popping Splash of Colorful & Interesting Images & Stunning Depth of Field

    Preposterous and Playful, Postmodern Surrealism, is a Stab at Defining
    the Work of Director Guy Maddin. His Influences may be David Lynch,
    Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, Silent Movies, Jackson Pollock, and the
    (Kitch)en Sink.

    Maddin is a Maddman, Maniacally making Movies that are so Visually
    Stunning that it is Possible to Enjoy His Art like Wallpaper. You can
    even turn the Sound Off (although even His aural chops are interesting
    sound samples).

    Back in the Psychedelic Sixties, Clubs and Private Parties often
    included, as Ambiance, Visual Projections on the wall for Background
    and Atmosphere that Added an Other Worldly Feel and a Treat for those
    Experiencing an Altered State of Consciousness.

    This Film attains that Disconnect with Saturation of Colors and Bizarre
    Images that have Tenuous Connections to what is Going On. What is Going
    On is in the ”Eye of the Beholder” as the Filmmaker makes very Little
    Attempt at Continuity or Commonplace. Things seem to be there for
    Wonderment and Awe and if it makes some sort of Sense, so be it.

    The Joy in Watching Maddin’s latest Film is in the Richness of the
    Retro, Painted with Modern Technological Techniques that Mimic Ancient
    Technological Techniques that Stimulate Synapsis with a Dopamine
    Enhancing External Input of Unfamiliar Familiarity.

    Forget about Storytelling, that is a Hook that Maddin only Hints at and
    when He does it is with a Giggle and a Guffaw. This is Eyeball Popping
    for Eyeball Popping Sake. It is Splashed on the Screen with a Purpose
    that has very Little Purpose other than to Stimulate and Entertain.
    It’s Low-Brow Flourishing with High-Brow Conceit.

    It’s the Kind of Film (and there are very few like it) that makes Wes
    Anderson’s Work seem Mainstream. This could be Enjoyed in 30 Minute
    Splashes because Nothing is Really Connected.

    It’s a Kaleidoscope of Thin Threaded Attachment that doesn’t Require or
    Expect a Two Hour Concoction of This Sort to be Anything but Spurts of
    Quirky Nonsense done with no other Purpose than to Unreel, Impress, and
    Unreel some more, and Provoke, then Unreel, Unreel, and it is all
    Gloriously and Completely Unreal.

  • bruwhiJuly 25, 2016Reply

    Ultimately Kind of Tedious

    I admire the film making and the art direction for The Forbidden Room,
    but while it initially dazzles, it quickly becomes rather tedious.
    There is no real payoff for the effort it takes to sit through it, and
    it does take some effort. The most entertaining part for me is the
    opening titles. The only movie I can compare it to is Stalker, and it
    isn’t a fair comparison. While both share the washed-out, sepia tone
    Lynch-like visual style, Stalker has a discernible plot beyond just its
    style. I’d love to intellectualize the film and say it has deeper
    meaning, but outside of the art direction and distressed film look,
    after sitting through it I’ve decided there is just no ”there” there.

  • wayneluscombeSeptember 21, 2016Reply

    Terrible, I invested an hour of my life I will never get back

    I did not enjoy this film. In fact after investing an hour trying to
    watch it, I had to give up. Some reviewers have used the terms ”deep”
    and a ”slog” to get through. Well it was deeper than I wanted to go,
    and slog is an understatement. I was not able to figure out a plot, it
    appeared to be a jumble of disconnected clips randomly strung together
    that made no sense. The harsh flickering high contrast filming style
    with it’s strange pulsation graphic images in the background, was like
    watching something from the psychedelic 60’s. The flickering was like
    watching a strobe light. The scenes were short and jumped from scene to
    scene like something from Sesame Street. If you are a fan of Pulp
    Fiction, you may be able to sit through this film long enough to figure
    it out. For me, it was an hour of my life I will never get back.

  • morrison-dylan-fanNovember 20, 2016Reply

    The Forbidden Fruit.

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • Red-BarracudaNovember 21, 2016Reply

    Not the best

    In fairness, this sounds like quite a good idea on paper. A bunch of
    lost movies from the silent era have been put on film by using old
    reviews as building blocks. What’s more, the idea of visually
    representing this material by way reproducing the look of old film
    stock and silent movie techniques seems like a pretty good one. But
    what it ultimately comes down to is that old adage that some ideas
    sound far better on paper than they are in practise. At the outset I
    was pretty much on board with this one and appreciating the visual
    ideas and general oddness of the content but after half an hour or so I
    was basically struggling. The visual style, while well done, is
    basically so relentless that it becomes increasingly difficult keeping
    your mind on any of the content. So much so that for the most part of
    this I was staring at it as you would wallpaper. Pretty wallpaper
    admittedly but staring at a wall for extended periods is hard going and
    ultimately a somewhat mind-numbing endeavour.

    I don’t think there is any point summarising the plot. I cannot see
    what good that could possibly achieve. But suffice to say that that the
    material is dealt with in a part surrealist, part absurdist manner.
    There is even a few interesting actors involved in this as well but
    they are pretty much lost is the mix also. As I said earlier there is
    an interesting visual aesthetic at play here and the concept has
    potential as an idea but, despite all this, I found this to be a
    thoroughly unengaging experience. It felt way too long clocking in at
    two hours as well and, in the final analysis, I more or less hated
    watching this interminable film.

  • sol-November 26, 2016Reply

    Room with a View

    About as far removed from a conventional narrative as possible, this
    highly experimental movie from Guy Maddin juggles a raft of plots with
    subjects as diverse as bathing habits, doppelganger theory, deep sea
    mysteries and a doctor whose obsession with bones interferes with his
    work. Even more bizarre than Maddin’s rather random jumping between
    plots, however, is the visual style he brings to the project with black
    and white and tinted sequences, silent movie style title cards,
    deteriorating stock footage and the list goes on. The film has a found
    footage feel to it — think Craig Baldwin’s pseudo-documentaries and
    you will know what to expect — however by providing no logic to the
    flipping in and out of stories, Maddin does not manage to spin an
    experimental movie half as enticing as Baldwin’s seminal works. To call
    the film ‘uneven’ would be a massive understatement. At its best, ‘The
    Forbidden Room’ is laugh-out-loud funny – with Louis Negin offering a
    very funny take on 1950s basic hygiene movies – and memorable – with a
    catchy song about derrieres. These high points are very few and far
    between though and the majority of the movie is too convoluted to
    generate laughs with characters so paper thin that they are simply not
    interesting to follow around. With its uncanny visuals, daringness to
    be different and hilarious odd bits, ‘The Forbidden Room’ is not a film
    that should be dismissed altogether. It takes a lot of patience though
    to get through. There is reason why experiment movies usually are not
    as long as this effort is.

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