“Every balcony is a poem, a chant — a muscle! But whoever lives with that extra blueprint luxury of a balcony lives on the wrong side of a cross-section, on the busy, narrative-addled side of something like an ant-farm window, a brazen architectural arrangement selling cheap peeks into the naked sideshows of the quotidian — even the grisly. Step right up! Behold! A ten story wall of solid twitching muscle!”

—-Director Guy Maddin in Paste Magazine on his short film Accidence

Manor House Balcony, downtown Dallas, Texas

After watching and enjoying The Forbidden Room I was working through the selection of Guy Maddin films streaming on The Criterion Channel. And I now have a new favorite movie.

It’s a nine minute short called Accidence. It is an obvious homage to Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The entire film is a continuous take (zoomed in and out with a bit of panning) of the side of an apartment block – thirty units in all. There is a view of the balconies, some windows into the apartment interiors, and a glimpse of things moving up and down the stairs.

Ok, so it’s only nine minutes long… but you can’t watch it only once. On first viewing it is a confused ant-like cacophony of people on and off of their balconies. But as you watch it again and again, patterns emerge and a story is created. It is a story of doppelgangers, violence, families, boredom and drama. And a fuzzy white dog.

Who is the murderer? Who is the victim? Are they the same person?

I have watched it maybe forty times and will watch it many more. I still see new things. Watch the balloon for example. There is a red ghost that appears against the brick a couple of times – I think I figured out who that is.

Weird, wild stuff.

New Orleans Architecture, French Quarter

I love the wrought iron railings throughout the French Quarter. They are beautiful even when they are not crowded with Mardi Gras crowds showering topless women with cheap plastic beads. Most of the balconies are decorated – many with tacky sports stuff – but some are particularly attractive with loads of live plants.

Something you see in tropical climates is the idea of a shaded green interior plaza or atrium with a water feature. The water and plants add a coolness, making the mid day heat almost bearable and the rest of the day delightful. These are wonderful and usually hidden living spots.

A bare balcony showing off the beauty of the elaborate wrought iron.

New Orleans is the most original of all American Cities. The French Quarter has become a tourist Mecca, but in the mornings it still feels like the natural heart of the city.