Monday, August 31, 2009

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)

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 
originaly filmed as a telefilm for CBC Television in Canada, but 
critical and popular acclaim brought it to a United States 
theatrical release.

"Bruce Diones in The New Yorker declared that 
“Maddin has discovered a new kind of cinema, the 
welding of silent-film technique, avant-garde imagery, 
and 21st century technology....Victorian sexuality and 
melodrama are brought together in a shadowy world 
of expressionistic images and an athletic, almost rabid, 


In 1897, a visitor from the East, Dracula, arrives in London and is 
inadvertenly 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 adormed with garlic. That night, Renfield, a mental patient 
who lives in the asylum next to Lucy´s mother awakens in the
commotion. Panicked by the demons, Lucy´s Mother opens the
door and inadvertenly re-invites Dracula into the house. Both 
Lucy and her mother are killed in this incident and 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. Renfiled is
interrogated and confesses tha Dracula has brought Lucy back 
from the dead commintting 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 decapitation with a 
shovel by Van Helsing who then declares they must find and 
defeat the Vampyre.

Van Helsing and his men go to ingterrogate Renfiled finding out tha 
Dracula´s next plan is to attack Lucy´s best friend Mina. Menawhile, 
Mina who is in a conevt aids her injured fiancée Harker. Renfiled 
revels to Van Helsing of Harker´s journey to Castle Dracula where 
Harker intented finalize a land sale. Upon arriving, harker is ravaged 
by three Brides of  Dracula who overpower him. Harker eventually 
finalizes the land deal for Darcula, and gets placed in imprisonment 
in his Castle. Harker escapes, finding himself under the care of the 
convent´s inhabitants. Renfield explains thar Van Helsing should 
seek past the Convent and towards Castle Dracula. in the covent, 
Mina arrives to greet Harker. mina finds his diary, as Harker 
cautiosly allows Mina to learn of his plaesures with the Brides of 
Dracula be known to her. With what she has discovered about 
Harker, Mina becomes 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 takes her to Castle Dracula.

In Castle Dracula, Dracula woos Mina, tempting her with offers os 
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 windows 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 es left hanging motionless, impaled on a giant 

Deviantions from the novel


Like most of Maddin´s films which are filmed in a style that 
imitates aerly talkie films, Darcula, 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 a 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 the 

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, wich takes up the 
whole firts 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 bay 
to eat.

  • Zhang Wei-Qiang - Dracula
  • Tara Birtwhistle - Lucy Westenra
  • David Moroni - Dr. Van Helsing
  • CindyMarie Small - Mina
  • Johnny Wright - Jonathan Harker
  • Brent Neale - Renfield

The film a limited theatrical release, but came to popular 
critical acclaim with an 84% averange rating on Metacritic 
and an 85% "Flesh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger 
Ebert gave the film 31/2 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 sntaches 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.

>>Awards and nominations:

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

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