Director Paul Cox tells the story of Russian dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky (1890–1950). English actor Derek Jacobi reads selections from Nijinsky’s diaries. The readings are illustrated with still photographs, dance sequences, re-enactments and shots of the landscape.
Ever since he made Vincent, his marvellous film about Van Gogh, in 1987, Paul Cox has been determined to make a portrait of another great artist he admires, the Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.
And, just as John Hurt read the letters written by Van Gogh to his brother in Vincent, so here Derek Jacobi reads the diaries Nijinsky composed. The main difference between the two films is that whereas in Vincent we could see the paintings, there is no equivalent in the dances performed by Nijinsky himself. Cox`s solution is to provide photographs, some recreated, `acted` scenes, and some ballet sequences inspired by Nijinsky`s work.
There are also images familiar from other Cox films - birds, trees, water. Like Vincent, Nijinsky was a tormented individual, he thought he was God, he`s a more difficult artist to get close to, and, as a result, this very beautiful film leaves the viewer somewhat detached.
That said, Cox remains Australia`s most dedicated, single-minded and rigorous filmmaker, and his passionate empathy for Nijinsky demands our respect.