A ballet rendition of Bram Stoker's gothic novel DRACULA, presented in a style reminiscent of the silent expressionistic cinema of the early 20th Century. This work employs the subtle and ... See full summary »
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Margaret Anne MacLeod,
A ballet rendition of Bram Stoker's gothic novel DRACULA, presented in a style reminiscent of the silent expressionistic cinema of the early 20th Century. This work employs the subtle and sometimes bold use of color to emphasize its themes, but mainly is presented in black-and-white, or tinted in monochrome. No spoken dialogue can be heard, and the story of a sinister but intriguing immigrant who preys upon young English women unfolds through dance, pantomime and subtitles. Written by
What an absolute thrill, from start to finish, just experiencing the `artistic conception' of this reverent homage to silent film, featuring Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a stunning performance by Zhang Wei-Qiang as Dracula, and the brilliant production design of Deanne Rohde. Once again, Guy Maddin has created a unique, conceptualized universe all his own; there's nothing else in cinema quite like his eerie, dreamlike imagery. This film is immersed in the thundering power of Mahler's `Resurrection' 2nd Symphony, a work which itself features an ascension from all things human and earthly, and rises into the glorious heavens, a transcendent experience which, musically, grounds this film. From this theme, we add vampires, whose lust for blood promises life everlasting. The performance of Zhang Wei-Qiang dominates throughout, as he is easily the most fascinating stage personality, filled with a mesmerizing ability to seduce and ultimately possess his willing screen sirens, and while I can't speak for anyone else, I always root for him against his puritanesque nemesis, Dr Van Helsing, the leader of the repressed gang of vampire slayers. Ballet director Mark Godden choreographed the ballet adapted by Maddin for this film, so there is constant motion on screen. All this is done in image and in dance, with exaggerated gestures and with an extreme grace in movements, magnificently sensuous and macabre, shrouded in fog and black and white shadows, with only the tiniest color tints. Each frame, by itself, is a still masterpiece; the imagery is that overpowering. But when put in motion by such gifted hands as Maddin's, the film experience is indescribable, but unforgettable.
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