Talented New Zealand filmmaker Toa Fraser invited by a successful producer Matthew Metcalfe to direct "Giselle", touched the ballet for the first time in his working career. Renowned master of built on the dialogues psychological concepts , now opened the door into this wordless art form and filled his film with a tense inner dialogue to endlessly continue living and growing in the mind of a thoughtful and emotional viewer.
Incredibly, he, along with his creative team, managed to put in a standard movie time frame two large plots - one is what we know as a ballet "Giselle" itself and the other is a contemporary love story appearing sometimes to completely merge with the very ballet, sometimes - to be separate from it and bring into the movie the breath of other countries, cultures and times.
This second story line frames the events taking place on the stage by building some semantic arches on them, and amazingly coexists with this semi-mythical world of dreams, filling the infinitely sad romantic plot with the new philosophical sense.
Probably, it is correct to define the film "Giselle" as a ballet adaptation, but for me it's not desirable.
Too much has happened since Toa Fraser, while screening in full the interpretation by Johann Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel of the classic Petipa's production, has brought us from the romantic Gothic myth to the modern Shanghai world of contrasts, giving us there an opportunity to experience solitude and to find a solace in meditation, and even more than that, showed us a paradise of green fields of Catskills, where the love once lived, and then plunged us into a soullessness of the New York subway.
Two broken heart stories - one sheds light and casts a shadow on another, although the second one does not have a certain plot, and if it needed at all?
We just know that the two are going through the torment of separation, and in the ballet this state acquires a particular image - a live girl is leaving, being replaced by her ghost.
I do not want to describe in detail perfectly filmed magnificent New Zealand Ballet production, which has already received the highest ratings from the world of ballet critics. Let me just say that the choice of the leading performers - Giselle (Gillian Murphy) and Albrecht (Qi Huang ) somehow turned to be a momentum for the emergence of the second storyline. The world famous American dancer and a talented moved to live and work in New Zealand from his native Beijing heritor of Chinese ballet school, form together a new harmonic consonance producing a resonant echo, which pops-up over the tragic story inherent in the ballet.
The associative sequence caused by the contrast between the red-haired natural magic of Gillian and oriental refinement of Qi leads to the infinity. It is with their differences we feel the fatality of the equal to death separation and earn both its explanation and some sense of karmic predestination.
This invasion of Buddhism into the ballet rooted in the Western European classical myth sheds a new light on the understanding of the story of "Giselle."
What in the original plot appeared to be a consequence of the human actions now looks like a tragic inevitability, and we can't even blame Albrecht, as nothing less than the forces of fate made him pass through the circle of lifetime hell.
Albrecht - Qi Huan - doesn't have enough time to realize how deep his love to Giselle is before she dies broken hearted.
Foreboding hovers over Giselle and her mother, and the famous guessing on the flower is an omen. Gillian Murphy's Giselle has "Wili" in her blood. One can feel the doom reflected in her face, eyes, in all her moves different from other girls of the village. She is too perfect in her dance, and this perfection here works like a fatal imprint.
Albert - Qi Huan - is an embodiment of physical power full of inner nobility, but even Giselle's love can't protect him from the fate, his accidental salvation - in this production only dawn stops revenge of the wilis - happens to be the temporary one, because in the epilogue of the ballet he comes into the woods to the cemetery and surrenders himself to the devilishly beautiful and equally ruthless Myrtha (a frightening gothic character brilliantly embodied by Abigail Boyle) and her retinue.
Such a tragic end finds its confirmation in the second story line emerging through the ballet pores, where the two are separated completely and hopelessly. Their dance of love - the pas de deux from the second act - happens behind the scene, in the rehearsal room, and it reads like a piece of a contemporary story associated with so many lives destroyed by the theatre - this beautiful and ruthless realm of spirits and ghosts more powerful than earthly beings.
All is harmonious in this movie, it is a subject to the higher logic, so the rock ballade by Don MakGlashen embedded in its sound track not seem sacrilege. Its inserts imitating the Buddhist meditation, perfectly fit the film's philosophical concept
"Giselle" turned into a movie has received a new life and a precious and unique interpretation.