Albert Serra’s teasing 18th-century drama sees Casanova cross paths with Dracula, as Enlightenment reason and secular pleasure give way to the dangerous passions of Gothic romanticism.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
The central character in Catalan director Albert Serra’s strange and beautifully envisaged fantasia on 18th-century themes is Casanova. The era’s great, self-documenting libertine is imagined as a crumbling paragon of Enlightenment reason. He regales any of his retinue who will listen with tales of his perceptive brilliance – while fully indulging the most fundamental bodily pleasures left to him. Meanwhile, lurking in the film’s final act, Count Dracula embodies a more dangerous Romantic sensibility awaiting its moment. Serra, who brought his Birdsong to NZIFF in 2011, now contributes the only 35mm film print on our 2014 programme. “The film’s serene flamboyance, its complete confidence in pacing and casting (Serra as usual working with nonprofessional actors), and the sheer pleasure in filmmaking on display make Story of My Death feel like a piece of pure cinematic luxury.