The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Paul Cox
Starring : Derek Jacobi, Delia Silvan, Chris Haywood, Hans Sonneveld, Oliver Streeton, Jillian Smith, Kevin Lucas, David Gallasch, Aanya Whitehead, Gabriella Joy Smart, Lisa Heaven, Patricia Cellier, Kyra Cox, Anandine Merino,
Viewers suffer through a 92-minute montage of clichéd images -- fields of wheat, diaphanous skirts, birds in flight -- as narrator Derek Jacobi reads from Nijinsky's diaries. As one might imagine, insane ramblings make for poor monologue. Evidence such insight as: "I am feeling in the flesh, and not intellect in the flesh... Beauty cannot be discussed; beauty cannot be criticized. I love beauty because I feel it." After an hour or so, you'll want to scratch at your own skin for diversion.
The documentary, and I use the term with skepticism, is an art piece. As such it is not intended as narrative. But in fact, you'll learn more from the one-paragraph epilogue flashed on the screen in the last 20 seconds than you will from the rest of the film. There are many layers of symbolism -- bird imagery, religious iconography, blood, and so on -- that the viewer will not be inspired to untangle. Perhaps there's something there, but somehow one tends to doubt it.
There are a few lovely scenes in which dancers re-create bits of Nijinky's choreographic work, but these are far overwhelmed by the chloroformic shots of bubbling streams and light streaming through tree branches that comprise the rest of the movie. Jacobi's narration is apt, and his considerable talent lends tragedy to lines that would otherwise seem comic. Still, the film would work much better as a video installation in a museum, where viewers would be free to leave. Immediately.
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