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
I had the pleasure of witnessing the world television premiere of this wonderful film last night. It had been a five-year wait since Maddin's last feature length effort, the disappointing "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs", so I waited with baited breath. It is with great satisfaction that I announce that Maddin is back in full form with his fifth feature, and twenty-second film over all. Told in Maddin's trademark, fever dream style, the film harkens to the cinematic days of yore (mostly in black and white, no spoken dialogue, only titles), and yet is at the same time fresh, intelligent, and energetic. Maddin fans will not be disappointed. Fans of the 1998 Royal Winnipeg Ballet, from which this film was adapted, might be surprised to see what Maddin has done. He has seamlessly blended the ballet with the narrative action, so neither distracts or takes away from the other. This is no "filmed ballet" (see Nureyev's 'Romeo and Juliet'). The camera moves freely, and Maddin's use of different film stocks and depth of field create an otherworldly atmosphere. Possibly the best way to enjoy this film however, is as a fan, or at least connoisseur, of the Original Bram Stoker novel on which both the film and the ballet are based. Maddin remains 100% faithful to the story. All the characters and event in the book are here, although Maddin is able to compress the information to its barest essentials (Jonathan Harker's invitation to Castle Dracula, his imprisonment, and subsequent escape, is told in one delirious, incredible montage lasting less than a minute). However, Maddin subverts the themes (or perhaps brings out the dormant themes) of the original to create a whole new take on the book. Dracula fans should find this fascinating. Of course, I've lavished all this praise on Maddin, but I must give credit where credit is due. The dancers (whom Maddin did not cast, as they were all in the original stage production) wonderfully evoke their characters without dialogue, through dance alone; something were not used to seeing in film. As I have said before, the dance and filmic elements work in perfect tandem. All in all this film gives us something new as Maddin lovers, Ballet lovers, Dracula lovers, or all three. It is a feverish orgy of the best things art has to offer. Bravo! Encore!
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