The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky | Chicago Reader

The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky

For nearly two months in 1919—after his final performance and before he entered an insane asylum—the legendary Polish-Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky filled a diary with feverish reveries on life, art, society, and God, writings that were suppressed until the mid-90s. Austrian writer-director Paul Cox (Man of Flowers, Innocence) has excerpted them (in voice-over by Derek Jacobi) and illustrated them with impressionistic images to create this poetical film on the artist as madman. Photos and newsreel footage from Nijinsky's days at the Ballets Russes are juxtaposed with short dramatizations of his famous stage roles (the Faun prancing in the woods) and sexual liaisons (with Romola, his domineering wife, and Sergey Diaghilev, the leering founder of the troupe). Some of the images are pretentious (fields of flowers, a lamb being slaughtered) but no more so than Nijinsky's ruminations, which can also be naive and petulant. A treat for balletomanes, this 2001 feature may be too precious for others. With members of the Australian Ballet and Leigh Warren & Dancers. 95 min.

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