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Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary

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Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary
Draculaballet.jpg
Region 1 DVD Cover
Directed by Guy Maddin
Produced by Vonnie Von Helmolt
Written by Original Novel:
Bram Stoker
Ballet:
Mark Godden
Starring Zhang Wei-Qiang
Tara Birtwhistle
David Moroni
CindyMarie Small
Johnny Wright
Brent Neale
Music by Original by:
Gustav Mahler
Arranged by:
Russ Dyck
Bruce Little
Cinematography Paul Suderman
Editing by Deco Dawson
Release date(s) Canada:
February 28, 2002
United States:
May 14, 2003
United Kingdom:
December 12, 2003
Running time 75 min.
Country Canada
Language Silent
Budget CAD $1.6 million[1]

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is a 2002 horror film directed by Guy Maddin. It is a silent interpretation of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's take of Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was originally filmed as a telefilm for CBC Television in Canada, but critical and popular acclaim brought it to a United States theatrical release.[2]

PlotEdit

In 1897, a visitor from the East, Dracula, arrives in London and is inadvertently invited into the home of Lucy. She is bitten by Dracula, and taken by his curse. Lucy's behavior becomes more erratic leading her to bite her fiancée. Lucy is immediately put under the care of Dr. Van Helsing. Van Helsing does blood tests on Lucy and declares "Vampyre!" as the source of the problem, and puts Lucy to bed adorned with garlic. That night, Renfield, a mental patient who lives in the asylum next to Lucy's home, escapes from confinement and Lucy's house is broken into by demons. Lucy's mother awakens in the commotion. Panicked by the demons, Lucy's Mother opens the door and inadvertently re-invites Dracula into the house. Both Lucy and her mother are killed in this incident and a funeral procession takes place. The next day, Renfield is recaptured and placed back into the mental hospital. Bizarre incidents begin to occur around the city with newspapers headlines proclaiming a "Bloofer Lady" who has been murdering infants. Renfield is interrogated and confesses that Dracula has brought Lucy back from the dead committing these deeds and the solution to the problem lies in the graveyard. Van Helsing and Lucy's suitors go there and spy Dracula and the undead Lucy in a full romantic embrace. After Dracula leaves, Van Helsing declares "We must destroy the false Lucy so the real one may live forever". When Van Helsing opens the Lucy's coffin, Lucy rises out and attacks the men. Lucy is eventually subdued by a piercing stab from Jonathan's long wooden stakes and a decapitation with a shovel by Van Helsing who then declares they must find and defeat the Vampyre.

Van Helsing and his men go to interrogate Renfield finding out that Dracula's next plan is to attack Lucy's best friend Mina. Meanwhile, Mina who is in a convent aids her injured fiancée Harker. Renfield reveals to Van Helsing of Harker's journey to Castle Dracula where Harker intended finalize a land sale. Upon arriving, Harker is ravaged by three Brides of Dracula who overpower him. Harker eventually finalizes the land deal for Dracula, and gets placed in imprisonment in his Castle. Harker escapes, finding himself under the care of the convent's inhabitants. Renfield explains that Van Helsing should seek past the Convent and towards Castle Dracula. In the convent, Mina arrives to greet Harker. Mina finds his diary, as Harker cautiously allows Mina to learn of his pleasures with the Brides of Dracula be known to her. With what she has discovered about Harker, Mina becomes progressively more sexually aggressive which Harker nervous as he flees with the diary. Mina attempts to follow Harker but comes face to face with Dracula, who kidnaps her and takes her to Castle Dracula.

In Castle Dracula, Dracula woos Mina, tempting her with offers of riches and eventually biting her on the neck, solidifying his curse on her. Harker, Van Helsing, and his men break into Dracula's castle dispatch the Brides of Dracula with long wooden stakes. The men eventually stumble upon Mina and find the mark of Dracula's bite upon her. Attempting to root out Dracula, the men smash coffins and place Christian crosses in them. Dracula attacks the men. After the battle, Dracula and Mina are the only two left conscious. Mina scurries to a window with a cross and pulls it open to have sunlight which stuns Dracula. At this point the men regain consciousness, surround Dracula, and stab him with their stakes. The castle is demolished by Van Helsing's men and everyone departs. Dracula is left hanging motionless, impaled on a giant stake.

Deviations from the novel Edit

StyleEdit

Like most of Maddin's films which are filmed in a style that imitates early talkie films, Dracula, Pages from a Virgin's Diary is shot in silent film tradition complete with title cards and some mimicked special effects of the time such as tinted screen color, shadow play, and vaseline on the camera lens to create a blurry effect. The film is not entirely monochrome, often computer generated special effects are used to allow bright, acidic colours to be seen in normally black and white scenes, such as golden coins, green bank notes and red blood in an otherwise monochrome shot.

Unique to this film stylistically is that Dracula has an abundance of ballet with nearly its entire cast being part of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Large portions of this film are expressed through the medium.

The film also gently mocks or plays with some conventions of the "Dracula" story. For example, Jonathan Harker's account of his imprisonment in Dracula's castle, which takes up the whole first section of Bram Stoker's novel, is relegated to a single brief scene midway through the film. Presented at an accelerated speed, as if shot with an old under-cranked camera, the scene is punctuated with suggestive and humorous title cards. Most notable is "Infants for supper?" a mild, if incredulous inquiry which stands in for the horror Jonathan usually expresses when Dracula presents his brides with a baby to eat.

CastEdit

Reception Edit

The film had a limited theatrical release, but came to popular critical acclaim with an 84% average rating[3] on Metacritic and an 85% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[4]. Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, writing: "Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is not concerned with the story mechanics of moving from A to B. At times it feels almost like one of those old silent films where scenes have gone missing and there are jumps in the chronology. This is not a problem but an enhancement, creating for us the sensation of glimpsing snatches of a dream. So many films are more or less alike that it's jolting to see a film that deals with a familiar story, but looks like no other."[5]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Festival de Cine de Sitges:

  • Win: Best Film - Guy Maddin

International Emmy Awards:

  • Win: Best Performing Arts Program - Canada

Directors Guild of Canada:

  • Nominated: DGC Craft Award - Guy Maddin

Blizzard Awards

  • Win: Best Art Direction - Deanne Rohde, Ricardo Alms

NotesEdit

External links Edit

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