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Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary

3.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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(May 18, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

After garnering widespread acclaim with his mini-masterpiece THE HEART OF THE WORLD, red hot cult auteur Guy Maddin (THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD) has taken on the world’s most adapted horror tale and concocted his most original and ravishingly stylized cinematic creation yet. Beautifully transposing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire yarn from stage to screen, Maddin has forged a sumptuous, erotically charged feast of dance, drama and silent film techniques. The black-and-white, blood-red-punctured DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN’S DIARY is a Gothic grand guignol of the notorious Count and his bodice-ripped victims, fringed with the expressionistic strains of Gustav Mahler.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Wei-Qiang Zhang, Tara Birtwhistle, Dave Moroni, CindyMarie Small, Johnny A. Wright
  • Directors: Guy Maddin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Silent, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001US600
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,989 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 21, 2004
Format: DVD
Actually, if you stop and think about it, the idea of filming a ballet as a silent movie makes perfect sense. But because this rather obvious comparison has never occurred to us before the decision of director Guy Maddin ("Careful," "Tales From the Gimli Hospital") to film Mark Godden's "Dracula" as adapted and choreographed for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet seems like a masterstroke. I was not surprised that somebody would write a ballet based on Dracula, but it turns out that is not exactly what happened here. The music in "Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary" is by Gustav Mahler, taken from his first and second symphonies, neither of which was written as dance music for Bram Stoker's gothic horror novel, but Godden and Maddin make it all work. So that is too surprises delivered to the audience before Dracula ever starts dancing.
For those familiar with the novel or the various film versions of "Dracula" that have tried to stay in the vicinity of Stoker's original text, the story picks up in England with Lucy Westernra (Tara Birthwhistle) trying to pick between her three suitors, Dr. Jack Seward (Matthew Johnson), Arthur Holmwood (Stephane Leonard), and Quincy Morris (Keir Knight), not to mention creepy bug-eating Renfield (Brent Neale). When Lucy falls prey to the vampire's curse, Dr. Van Helsing (David Moroni) arrives to teach the unbelievers what to do when someone they love becomes one of the undead.
The second half of the ballet deal with the effort by Dracula (Wei-Qiang Zhang) to take Mina (CindyMarie Small) away from her intended, Jonathan Harker (Johnny A. Wright), and the flight back to Castle Dracula.
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Movement could be interpreted in the same manner that the symbols of the alphabet are, as a series of letters create a word while a number of words form a sentence. In dance the viewer can observe each separate movement though the combination of a successive number of movements that generate a bigger meaning. The dance ultimately leads the audience on a journey with feelings, adventure, and much more. Through the help of ballet the Canadian auteur Guy Maddin restores Bram Stoker's character Dracula in an artistic mirror image of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror from 1922 or Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979).

Unlike the previous Murnau and Herzog vampire films Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary has purposely shifted its storyline from a typical chronological order to a tossed jumble. This cinematic mixture generates an unconscious imagery with a surrealistic touch where the audience senses the moments of suspense and alarm. There are also emotions such as deep desire and lust which also emerge through the vivid movements of the dancers that once again bring this tale of the dark prince coming to England. Some might assume that the unorganized pattern of the film would affect the experience in a negative way. However, Maddin skillfully induces this nightmare into a surrealistic concoction that allows for the combination of feelings to trickle down to the audience in an artistic manner.

The sexual element of vampires is kept intact in Maddin's film, as he also continues to develop this taboo ridden theme. The film opens with Lucy (Tara Birtwhistle) dreaming, which is illustrated through a number of bizarre shots that have been edited together that deal with the arrival of Dracula (Wei-Qiang Zhang).
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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.
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