There have been many film versions of Bram Stoker's tale of vampires, DRACULA, but none have been done with such grace and raw sexuality as this film version (called DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN'S DIARY) based on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production. Directed by Guy Maddin to Gustav Mahler's music and Mark Godden's choreography, the ballet covers the old story of the vampire Count Dracula (Zhang Wei-Qiang) and his seductions of Lucy Westernra (Tara Birtwhistle) and Mina Murray (CindyMarie Small) until his ultimate destruction at the hands of Dr. Van Helsing (David Moroni). With its stark black and white images, mixed with various color tinitings and almost painted-on highlights the film is both stark and beautiful in its presentation.
Since this film is essentially a filmed ballet, all of the acting is done in mime. As a result, the film is given an almost silent film (complete with sub-titles) atmosphere to the whole proceedings. Zhang Wei-Qiang makes for a romantic, yet imperiously aloof Dracula, while CindyMarie Small is just the right blend of innocence and desire as Mina. However, it is Tara Birtwhistle's Lucy and David Maroni's Van Helsing that truly capture the attention. Birtwhistle exudes both playfulness and raw sexuality in her stunning portrayal, while Maroni's intense bearing makes him a formidable foe for Dracula.
The entire ensemble does wonderful work and the film goes at a good clip at 74 minutes. However, the film's first half is probably more interesting to non-ballet fans as most of the special effects and wild staging seem to take place here. The DVD has some wonderful extras including some radio interviews with the producer and director, a Canadian news story about the film, photos, and an insightful commentary by Maddin.
For fans of ballet, Dracula, or both, this film is definitely a must-see and something that I would highly recommend.