Winnipeg is, and always has been, a hockey city. This central reality of the Winnipeg psyche is mythologized to great effect by Guy Maddin in My Winnipeg, as he narrates the Tale of Two Arenas and the story of the ghostly hockey team called The Black Tuesdays.
This is the segment of the film which probably contains the greatest number of actual facts. Everything is true about Eaton's, its replacement with a new downtown hockey arena and the destruction of the old Winnipeg Arena. All the hockey facts and historical photos of players are true and known to every Winnipeg fan. Even the trough urinal is true!
Quite frankly, I cannot tell if Maddin's bitter outrage about the Arena Debate and the NHL is real or satirical. But if he's a true Winnipegger (and he is), it's probably real.
The video excerpt is 10 minutes long but it's well worth your time to watch!
One of my favourite aspects is Maddin's whole riff on the homoeroticism of hockey. Yes, he goes there, a subject virtually never explored in Canada. Another example of sleepwalking?
"Erotically-charged secret slapshots!"
Smitten by a naked Soviet hockey player glimpsed in the showers as "he emerged from the steam, naked except for the lather mantling his torso," a young Maddin steals his jersey. Wearing it against his own bare skin, "I nearly fainted from the touch of its fabric, and the fear." He immediately throws the jersey into the waters of The Forks, terrified that the KGB will come after him for the theft.
Like much in this film, it's amusing and poignant all at the same time. I love it. And for those of you familiar with Quebec author Roch Carrier's iconic coming-of-age short story, Le chandail de hockey [The Hockey Sweater], I feel this story in My Winnipeg is its English Canadian equivalent, LOL!
So this concludes my series about My Winnipeg -- I hope if you ever get a chance to see this film, you will! It's a classic gem of Canadiana which plumbs the very depths of our soul, eh? Thanks for reading along, those of you who persevered this far!