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Dracula

Pages From A Virgin's Diary

2007

Dracula - Pages From A Virgin's Diary
 

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The Movie

Director: Guy Maddin
Story by Bram Stoker
Ballet by Mark Godden

Zhang Wei-Qiang as Dracula (as Zhang Wei-Qiang)
Tara Birtwhistle as Lucy Westernra
David Moroni as Dr. Van Helsing
CindyMarie Small as Mina
Johnny Wright as Jonathon Harker
Stephane Leonard as Arthur Holmwood
Matthew Johnson as Jack Seward
Keir Knight as Quincy Morris
Brent Neale as Renfield

Cinematography by Paul Suderman
Film Editing by deco dawson
Production Design by Deanne Rohde
Art Direction by Deanne Rohde
Set Decoration by Ricardo Alms

Review

"This movie is hated by ballet purists, Mahler fans and horror freaks - so they must have done something right! In fact, marrying ballet with the technology of the silent movie was a stroke of genius, and despite the short length (70min, cut down from the ballet's 110min), Guy Maddin has been very faithful to the selctions from the original novel. I enjoy ballet, but am no expert, so I saw the benfits of it; the timing, the sensuality, the ability to communicate without words (and veryfew subtitles). As a hooro movie, it doesn't raise the adrenaline like Psycho, but victim fear as well portrayed, and it's hard to beat beheading with a shovel! All in all, this is a beautiful film, despite its quirkiness and mixed parentage, and is a must for anyone who's read the original novel" - Vampyreverse

"This is the kind of movie that has a limited audience. It's what you'd call "artsy", maybe even "pretentious". It's not exactly a break-out-the-popcorn-and-huddle-on-the-couch movie. I can see why people would think it's overrated. But I love it. Anyone who loves Bram Stoker's novel--not just the movies--needs to watch this because it is the most faithful adaptation of the book. It's not a perfect adaptation, but it preserves the basic plot which every other Dracula movie has more or less butchered. Most of the text in the movie comes straight from the book.

It also recreates the etheral atmosphere of the old Universal movies but adds very modern cinematography and themes. The best part of this movie is that it is visually gorgeous but not excessive. You'll know that all the sets are made of cardboard, but you won't care. The film itself speeds up and slows down to create drama--one scene resembles the 360 degree bullet shot from The Matrix, except it is a tableaux made up of Dracula, Mina, and Van Helsing. It's simple but still beautiful, unlike the decadance of Francis Ford Coppola's version.

And ballet is a perfect medium for expressing the repressed sexuality of the story. The sex is satirized to an extent, too. Mina doesn't understand why Jonathan won't do things with her that he did with Dracula's brides. Van Helsing is kind of a fetishist. Seward and Morris give each other carnal glances at one point. Lucy is a perfect "dumb blonde" and the dancer who plays her is an especially good actress. It also touches on the themes of xenophobia and immigration that previous versions of Dracula usually leave out. It even features Dracula's hairy palm, which has never been done before on film. If you're more of a fan of the book than the movies, you really should see this. If you want a horror movie, well, this isn't it." - Mathias at Amazon

"Pairing the singular vision of Guy Maddin with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production of "Dracula" was sheer genius: "Dracula," with its emphasis on the advent of modernity and corporeal corruption and repressed sexuality, is the ideal vehicle for Maddin's peculiar talents. What's more, using ballet dancers allowed him the opportunity to make a completely silent film (scored only with excerpts from Mahler's first and second symphonies).

The results are stunning: this film has the most beautiful cinematography of any I've seen in years, the performances are superb, and Maddin even allows his trademark campy humor to creep into the titles (though not so much that it becomes annoying). The most beautiful sequences are danced in Lucy Westenra's mansion near the beginning, but the whole thing is spectacular." - Jay Dickson at Amazon

"Commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Company to film Mark Godden's Royal Winnipeg Ballet production of Stoker's classic novel, Maddin has created an extraordinary poetic artifice, a neo-'silent' video movie that's theatrical, Expressionist and utterly cinematic. Quick-cut to the Mahler score, the camera conducts its own graceful, sensual dance of death and desire, resurrecting such archaic tropes as colour tints and the iris-out to stunning effect. With Zhang Wei-Qiang as Dracula, it announces itself as a 'troubled dream of Immigrants! Others from other lands!', and the push-pull of the exotic animates its aesthetic singularity. By the end, you'll wonder why all films aren't made this way." - Tom Charity at Time Out

The DVD

Publisher: Tartan Video
Region: 0
Length: 71 mins
Aspect: 4:3
Dolby 5.1 / DTS Digital Surround 5.1

Special Features

Director's commentary
The making of Dracula
Theatrical Trailer
4-page booklet with Tom Charity film notes
Maddin Short film - The Heart of the World

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