Guy Maddin‘s appropriately-titled “Me Trilogy” was technically completed with the release of My Winnipeg (2007), but this brief film shouldn’t be discounted from this pivotal autobiographical phase in the director’s career. Released in 2008, Spanky: To the Pier and Back is, as the title suggests, a short centered around Maddin’s dog Spanky taking a walk. The director’s usual rapid editing style is still intact here, and Spanky’s journey is coated in a barrage of jump cuts and quick zooms that smudge and blur the collage of imagery. Typical of his work, Maddin spins the personal—even mundane—into a surreal frenzy that draws unavoidable and worthy comparisons to Stan Brakhage.
The linkage between Brakhage and Maddin was further explored in a Bright Lights Film Journal blog entry published in 2008 by C. Jerry Kutner, which states:
“Spanky: To the Pier and Back” is silent and achieves its effects through rapid-fire editing, an impressionistic montage of dog, trees, ocean and sky. Style-wise, Eye Like a Strange Balloon takes it cue from the surrealist and avant-garde films of the late ‘20s and early ‘30s. Spanky: To the Pier and Back is more like the personal home-movies-as-art created by Stan Brakhage in the 1950s and ‘60s. One could say that “Spanky: To the Pier and Back” is like Brakhage’s “Dog Star Man” without the Star and the Man, or – to put it less facetiously – like “Dog Star” Man without the painting/scratching on the film and cosmic superimpositions.