Home 2000s 2003 Movies The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World, image,

99 minutes – Drama
Release date: April 30, 2004
Canadian distributor: IFC Films

Set in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Great Depression in 1933 is in full bloom. Beer Baroness Lady Port-Huntly is a double amputee (played by Isabella Rossellini) who decides to fund a global competition to determine the saddest music in the world. Given the $25,000 prize, musicians from across the globe pour into Winnipeg. Sobbing Mexican Mariachis, dour Scottish Bagpipers, woeful West African drummers and numerous other grief-stricken ensembles give it their all. Down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Chester Kent (Mark McKinney) and his amnesiac girlfriend Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) return home to his native Winnipeg as the United States entry in the contest. He soon finds himself embroiled in a family reunion as treacherous and twisted as the competition itself. Ultimately, a cataclysmic fire and the machinations of fate sort matters out for the sad characters and the denizens of the saddest city on earth. Part musical melodrama, part tongue-in-cheek social satire, Guy Maddin’s expressionistic film achieves a level of lunacy rarely seen since the Marx Brothers. Based on a story by Kazoo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day), then adapted by Maddin, The Saddest Music in the World has been called “a work of genius.”

Also see: Guy Maddin Directs Isabella Rossellini in The Saddest Music in the World.
Also see: Isabella Rossellini talks about The Saddest Music in the World.

Northernstars.ca selected The Saddest Music in the World as one of its Top 10 Canadian Films of the Decade in December 2009.

Saddest Music in the World, movie, poster,



Niv Fichman
Jody Shapiro

Executive Producer:

Atom Egoyan
Daniel Iron


Phyllis Laing
Sheena Macdonald

Associate Producer:

Barbara Willis Sweete
Larry Weinstein


Guy Maddin


Guy Maddin
Geroge Toles


Luc Montepellier


David Wharnsby


Christopher Dedrick

Production Designer:

Matthew Davies

Art Director:

Réjean Labrie
Stephen Arndt (Set Decoration)

Costume Designer:

Meg McMillan

Cast: Roles:

Isabella Rossellini
Mark McKinney
Maria de Medeiros
Ross McMillan
David Fox
Claude Dorge
Darcy Fehr
Erik J. Berg
Brent Neale
Louis Negin

Lady Port-Huntley
A Polish pianist
Blind Seer