Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary

( 1 )

Overview

As director Guy Maddin himself explains in one of the featurettes on the DVD release of Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary, Bram Stoker's timeless novel of love and the undead has been filmed far too many times to justify yet another tired, formulaic retread without offering anything new. Of course, if there is a director with the inspired creativity to inject new life into the familiar tale, Maddin is indeed the man for the job -- as evidenced in Zeitgeist Video's fantastic release of this innovative and ...
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Overview

As director Guy Maddin himself explains in one of the featurettes on the DVD release of Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary, Bram Stoker's timeless novel of love and the undead has been filmed far too many times to justify yet another tired, formulaic retread without offering anything new. Of course, if there is a director with the inspired creativity to inject new life into the familiar tale, Maddin is indeed the man for the job -- as evidenced in Zeitgeist Video's fantastic release of this innovative and lavishly gothic film. Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, the lush black-and-white imagery that Maddin captures while spinning across the stage is staggering. Though some viewers may complain that the transfer is not anamorphic, the image is stable with little signs of artifacting or edge enhancement. The few glimpses of color -- appropriately crimson red -- that are seen in the film offer a great contrast to the monochromatic color scheme and really jump out at the viewer. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 and offers a great vehicle for Mahler's swelling symphony without giving way to any audible distortion or hiss. By now, everyone who is familiar with Maddin's work knows that there is little question he can shoot a stylish and visually seductive film, but what about the extras? Though, at one point during the audio commentary, Maddin apologizes for providing what he refers to as more of a "hockey play-by-play" than an actual commentary, the track is still an amusing and insightful peek into the visionary director's creative mindset. With technical talk generally limited to the amount of Vaseline he smeared on the lens to create a dream-like effect, fans may be disappointed that such an excessively stylized director virtually ignores the various visual techniques used; however, he always seems to have an interesting anecdote to offer and the commentary is never boring. A short behind-the-scenes featurette shot for CBC's Canada Now offers interviews with Maddin as well as producer Vonnie Von Helmolt and choreographer Mark Godden, with all involved showing great enthusiasm for the project and marked reverence for the source material. A video study on the production of the sets will certainly be of interest to theater lovers, as it offers extended footage of the sets in varying stages of construction -- and the option to view it with an overlying interview with Maddin from CBC Radio One offers the director speaking about how he connected the ballet version of the story to his love of silent films, among other interesting topics. An additional CBC Radio One interview with Von Helmolt finds the producer discussing the budget and artistic aspirations of the film while walking through the elaborate sets. The photo gallery rounds things out well by offering a nice variety of gorgeous black-and-white stills -- giving the viewer a chance to truly soak in the images that seem so fleeting within the context of the actual film.
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Special Features

Audio commentary by director Guy Maddin; Behind-the-scenes television special featuring interviews with Maddin, producer Vonnie Von Helmolt and choreographer Mark Godden; Video piece on the construction of the sets; Radio interviews with Maddin and Von Helmolt; Extensive production photo gallery
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary is cult director Guy Maddin's first feature film in six years, and his latest outing since The Heart of the World, his justly celebrated short from 2000. Commissioned by Canadian television to adapt the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's interpretation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Maddin instead came up with this defiantly cinematic fever-dream that bears his unmistakable stamp despite its literary and stage origins. Beginning with the casting of an Asian, Zhang Wei-Qiang, as the feared Dracula, Maddin amplifies the story's allegorical aspect for maximum hysteria. "Others! From Other Lands!" screams the screen upon Dracula's approach by sea. Later, Maddin imagines Dracula's defeat at the hands of Victorian Englanders as a metaphor for imperial adventurism. Filmed in lush black-and-white with a few drops of crimson, and largely silent, but for well-deployed sound effects and wall-to-wall Mahler, this Dracula seems like a mysterious artifact from a nonexistent past -- a description that could apply to all of Maddin's movies. Employing the forgotten tropes of 1920s silent cinema, this postmodern pastiche pulls out all the stops, from showy shadow play to excited title cards to Vaseline-smeared lenses. Almost an afterthought, the ballet numbers actually fit nicely into Maddin's grand scheme, though one wishes that Maddin and editor Deco Dawson had slowed down their hyperkinetic cutting during the dances; it's a minor fault in a major work, however. At once ironic and earnest, ridiculous and sublime, Dracula, Pages From a Virgin's Diary is a definitive exponent of Maddin's willfully anachronistic cinema.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/18/2004
  • UPC: 795975105132
  • Original Release: 2002
  • Rating:

  • Source: Zeitgeist Films
  • Presentation: Special Edition / Wide Screen
  • Sound: silent
  • Time: 1:15:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 52,252

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Zhang Wei-Qiang Dracula
Tara Birtwhistle Lucy
David Moroni Von Helsing
Cindy Marie Small Mina
Johnny Wright Jonathan
Technical Credits
Guy Maddin Director, Screenwriter
Paul Daigle Costumes/Costume Designer
Deco Dawson Editor
Russ Dyck Sound/Sound Designer
Danishka Esterhazy Associate Producer
Mark Godden Choreography
Vonnie Von Helmut Producer
Bruce Little Sound/Sound Designer
Lesley Oswald Co-producer
Deanne Rohde Production Designer
Robert Sherwin Executive Producer
Paul Suderman Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. "Master Is Coming!" [7:49]
2. Lucy Pursued [7:32]
3. Blood Transfusion [5:59]
4. "Vampyr!" [5:38]
5. The Bloofer Lady [7:20]
6. Un-Dead [5:06]
7. Harker and the Fleshpots [4:28]
8. Pink Convent [6:59]
9. Mina's Seduction [5:45]
10. "Unclean!" [5:00]
11. Petticoat [8:00]
12. Comes the Dawn [2:56]
13. End Credits [2:01]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Audio Commentary
      Commentary by Guy Maddin: On
      Commentary by Guy Maddin: Off
   The Crypt
      Behind the Scenes
         Play Segment
      Making the Sets
         Play Video
         Play With Interview
      Producer Interview
      Photo Gallery
         Begin
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Unique Vision

    Inspired by the world of silent cinema and featuring exquisite choreography, this film truly is a unique and original work of art. In a mere 75 minutes it is able to encapsulate subtle details and themes in Stoker's work and give them new meaning. The art design and cinematography are both top-notch and the music is dramatic and evocative. By far one of the best and most intriguing adaptations of the classic book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews