Guy Maddin's Dracula: Pages From A Virgin's Diary
Directed by Guy Maddin
Guy Maddin is the only major filmmaker working today whose movies could be accurately described as otherworldly. The Winnipeg auteur's low-budget oddities, filmed on musty soundstages with 8mm black-and-white film stock, are so bizarre and unhinged in tone and spirit that they look like messages from an alternate reality. Roger Ebert wrote that his films resemble "memories from cinema's distant past" and nowhere is that feeling more prevalent than in 2003's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, which harkens back to one of cinema's other masters of the otherworldly, F.W. Murnau. Silent, grainy and claustrophobic, Maddin's film seems to exist in the same cinematic universe as Murnau's seminal Dracula adaptation Nosferatu, but with a crucial difference: Maddin's film is based on a Royal Winnipeg Ballet production by Mark Godden. While most filmed ballets are captured in spacious, long shots, Maddin elects to shoot this production in cramped, choppily edited close-ups, enhancing the strangeness of the source material. The resulting film, alternately playful and reverent in its treatment of the Dracula mythos, filters Murnau's earnest spookiness through eight decades of vampire-based pop culture kitsch, as well as Maddin's distinctly eccentric visual style. In short, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is one of a kind. The film has been reissued on DVD, presumably in response to the success of Maddin's recent My Winnipeg, but like the previous edition, it's bereft of any extras. That's just as well — documentaries full of "behind-the-scenes" titbits could only detract from the film's surreal ambiance.
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