The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky

"Terrible"

The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky Review


In 1916, acclaimed Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky had a mental breakdown, which he recorded in a series of four notebooks over a seven-week period. Director Paul Cox uses excerpts from these journals as a basis for The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (also known as just Nijinsky), a film that explores the dancer's descent into madness using images seen from Nijinsky's viewpoint. The film deals, in part, with the beauty and tragedy of decay. It is quite terrible.

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.

Feelin' blue.



The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 25th April 2002

Distributed by: Wellspring Media Inc.

Production compaines: Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC), Illumination Films, MusicArtsDance Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Nijinsky (voice) (as Sir Derek Jacobi), as Romola, as Oscar, as Doctor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.