October 19, 2004

Sexxy Vampyres From Olden Times

maddin_dracula2.jpgAfter having the Guy Maddin* DVD of Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary for over a month from Netflix, Cinecultist finally took a Monday evening of poor television offerings to watch it. Now, we're smacking ourselves upside the head, yelling, "what took youse so long?" Sexy and weird and arty and intriguing and beautiful are not too shabby adjectives to describe a movie we'd been meaning to see for ages but only just sat down to watch, practically under duress.

So much of what Maddin does that's so delightful to a cinecultist like ourselves, is the foregrounding of moviemaking. He wants you to know it's a movie, in other words, and he uses the silent film techniques of melodrama, tinting, iris transitions, fish-eye lenses and a host of other gee gaws to constantly make the viewer aware of his game. While this adds quite a bit to the artistic intentions of his project, it also prompts such ruminations for CC best kept to ourselves like, "why don't more filmmakers use inter-titles?" and "nobody does good spot color hand tinting these days!" You'd think we were Peter Bogdanovich with these fancyings for ye olde silent film prompted by Maddin's work.

But if the techniques seem old fashioned, the sensibility is completely modern (in the sense of presenting "now" on screen, rather than the turn of last century). You can watch a zillion and one Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes and get that horror conventions are yet another metaphor for the fear of female sexuality, but Maddin's staging of this Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production makes it all so real once again. See, it's like, the Virgin Lucy writes in the pages of her diary that she really longs for the Vampyr just as she wants to possess all three suitor, and Harker's diary entry detailing his stay in Transylvania gets Mina all hot it's all so obvious when you see it danced out in front of you.

Zhang Wei-Qiang, the actor/dancer who plays Dracula, with his eyes spot colored in blood red hypnotizing us from the screen is on par with Murnau's Nosferatu framed in a round doorway. It is not a horror image easily forgotten.

*Canadian experimental film director. Not to be confused with the guy named Steve who makes shoes.

Posted by karen at October 19, 2004 8:30 AM