The Saddest Music in the World

2004 Drama

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin directs The Saddest Music in the World, reworked from an original screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro. Set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, the film involves a contest announced by the legless and glamorous Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) to find the saddest music in the world. She's hoping the contest will result in increased sales of her company's brand of beer. American theatrical producer Chester Kent (Mark McKinney) shows up to win the contest with his kooky show-business idea, while brother Roderick Kent (Ross McMillan) returns from the war. Maria de Medeiros plays Narcissa, a sleep walker romantically linked to both brothers. Their father, the alcoholic doctor Fyodor Kent (David Fox), is tortured by his role in Lady Port-Huntly's leg amputation, so he makes her a new glass pair filled with beer. The Saddest Music in the World was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. more..

Director: Guy Maddin

Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, Ross McMillan, David Fox


  • The concept is high, the humor lowbrow and the joy of experimentation evident in every frame of this wonderful picture.

    Carla Meyer - The San Francisco Chronicle

    20 January 2013

  • Hard to say who's luckier -- those who have seen the work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin before and know what to expect, or those who haven't and for whom The Saddest Music in the World serves as an eye-popping introduction.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    20 January 2013

  • It's all terribly tortured, often laugh-out-loud, absurdly funny and, as with all of Maddin's movies, conveyed through images that are as lush and beautifully over the top as the story's emotions.

    Manohla Dargis - Los Angeles Times

    20 January 2013

  • The effect is strange and delightful; somehow the style lends quasi-credibility to a story that is entirely preposterous.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    20 January 2013

  • Maddin's movies are easy, too. Point your eyes at the screen; the magic follows.

    Wesley Morris - The Boston Globe

    20 January 2013


  • Best Adapted Screenplay

    Chlotrudis Awards (2005)

  • Outstanding Achievement in Production Design - Feature Film

    Directors Guild of Canada (2004)

  • Best Achievement in Costume Design

    Genie Awards (2004)

  • Best Fantastic Feature Film

    Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival (2004)

  • Best Director

    U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (2004)