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Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is, simply put, pure avant-garde film. In other words, it's very experimental and completely abandons traditional forms of storytelling for more expressionistic and mind-boggling imagery. Whether you admire or dislike the film, you can't deny the impressive visuals and recreation of elements from silent and German Expressionist films. Guy Maddin's certainly created a stylish film, but the lack of structure sadly leads to a film that's filled with jumbled images and incoherency.

The film follows the traditional tale of Dracula - a man named Harker goes to Transylvania to seal a financial deal, finds out his client is darker than he appears, and ultimately ends up injured as his wife, Mina, is tempted by the seductive vampire. The difference this time around, however, is that the majority of the film is told through ballet and interpretative dance. Coupled with elements from silent film and ballet, the film aspires to be a brand new take on Dracula and the horror genre.

I won't deny the film's visual charm. I very much appreciated Maddin's creation of "neo-silent film", as I'm a huge fan of the gothic vibes that comes from silent film. To see these elements present in a more modern film isn't just interesting, but a breath of fresh air when compared to most modern horrors. I especially liked the outdoor sequences involving the snow, as the white and black contrast so perfectly in those moments and it creates a terrific atmosphere.

What I don't like about this film, however, is its lack of structure. I understand that its avant-garde and meant to be formless, but perhaps I just don't like avant-garde. Instead of following any sort of narrative, the film feels like a series of collage images and dances. It may be nice to look at, but there isn't any substance behind these images or creative dances. Dracula may look dark, Lucy may feel uneasy, and Van Helsing may act disciplined, but there isn't any emotion behind what's going on. It looks nice, but ultimately fails to deliver any sort of substance.

To further my dislike for the film, the pacing for Dracula is insanely hectic and way too fast. Actions and characters seem to bounce off the walls, transitioning from event to event as quickly as possible. The basic formula is this: introduction, dance number, snappy score, move on to the next plot point, and then repeat the whole process. It's sped-up and difficult to enjoy a "dream-like" film that's as spastic as this.

In the end, the film is an artsy yet unorganized mess of a film. It's got a great sense of style and the visuals look great, but the spastic pacing and incoherent structure of the film leave something to be desired from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary.



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