Canadian director Guy Maddin is an acquired taste so it is good news that Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is his most accessible film to date.
The film, however, is not your typical Dracula movie although the plot line is quite faithful to the book by Bram Stroker. The film is instead a silent / avant-garde / ballet version of the stage ballet done by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
We all know the story; Dracula (played by Zhang Wei-Qiang) seduces Lucy (Tara Birtwhistle), Lucy is sacrificed and then Dracula moves onto (and pirouettes around) his next victim (CindyMarie Small) until he is caught by the men who pursue him. The basic plot is in place for the film's 75 minute running time, but the way it is presented is so unique that is manages to re-awaken the Dracula story.
Maddin shot the film in black & white in both Super 8 and 16mm formats. And to make the whole experience that much more unique he used multiple filters, KY jelly on the lens, shot out-of-focus and from off kilter angles. Added to this the film is edited (by deco dawson) at times like a Soviet montage film of the 1920's and there are a good many color tinted shots. And then there is the dancing choreographed by Mark Godden to the first and second symphonies of Gustav Mahler. The overall effect is a uniquely dizzying experience.
It's also a beautiful film to look at with erotic and psychological overtones. Granted it is not beautiful in the way that a commercial piece of cinema is but it is beautiful to behold the whole spectacle that is the combination of Guy Maddin's cinema (minus the jokey stuff) and the Royal Winnepeg Ballet.