Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary

Director: Guy Maddin

Canada| 2002. Black and white/colour. Dolby stereo. 75 mins.

Extremely curious on paper, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary is a giddily addictive jaw-dropper in the form of a Royal Winnipeg Ballet adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel shot for Canadian television by a director with little apparent interest in dance or, for that matter, television. Teeming with Gothic Victorianisms, it might also be the most faithful screen version of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel to date, ramping up the racial/immigration anxiety as well as the famously prohibitive sexuality. More than merely a dance film, Dracula is an authentic Expressionist silent feature shot in often tinted black and white. It approaches the genre using 21st century technology (courtesy of digital effects, smuggled into almost every frame) but through 20th century lenses. With expertly choreographed dancing reflected in mirrors, shrouded by plumes of fog, sped up, slowed down and shot on Super-8 and 16mm, Dracula feels at times like Michael Jackson’s Thriller crossed with Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr. It would be easy to refer to its aesthetic as music-video based, but much like videos have evolved by stealing devices from film, particularly the avantgarde, Maddin discovers a new kind of cinema by reclaiming these innovations.

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