Story of My Death
Directed by Albert Serra
Famous lover Casanova (Vicenç Altaió), now long past his prime, meets Count Dracula (Eliseu Huertas) during a journey to Transylvania.
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★★★½ review by Graham Williamson on Letterboxd
Reviewed on The Geek Show.
Hard to really assign a star rating to this, because lol wtf even is a story of my death. It's definitely something wildly, bafflingly new - it wouldn't even exist without hi-def cameras - and it has a philosophical underpinning that makes it fun to unpick and turn over days after you've seen it. Serra deserves massive credit for finding a new cinematic version of Dracula that defamiliarises the character while feeling completely true to Stoker's original novel.
★★★★ review by Arthur Tuoto on Letterboxd
Em certo momento do filme, quando um animal é desmembrado na floresta, ouvimos Casanova dizer "Estamos cansados de alegorias. Isso tem uma presença verdadeira", em referência ao ritual bruto que vemos na tela. É claro que os personagens de Serra, por sua natureza mitológica, nunca deixarão de ser alegorias, mas mesmo assim seu cinema parece que almeja uma proximidade quase inocente, uma presença trivial, coloca essas figuras em um plano que, sim, é mitificador pela sua simples representação, mas possui uma serenidade cotidiana que os desloca para uma dimensão mais palpável, quase distraída, uma qualidade fabular singela. História da Minha Morte ainda consegue compor um tom agressivo, começa seu segundo ato com um paralelo lírico entre essa carga trivial e uma certa contaminação sombria e ritualística na figura do Drácula, que aos poucos vai envolvendo todos os entornos da história; transforma, inclusive, as pretensas vítimas de Casanova em criaturas sanguinárias. Aqui, mais do que em "Honor de cavallería" e "O canto dos pássaros", existe uma subversão entre historicidade e narrativa fictícia, a fábula cinematográfica não evidencia somente a presença daquelas figuras, mas concebe um novo mito.
★★★½ review by matt lynch on Letterboxd
rationalism giving way to romanticism, yeah, and crucially the philosophical and moral systems of control stay mostly intact (especially for the women). one decadent libertine replaced by another. i kind of wish Jess Franco had made this though.
★★★★★ review by Ian Myers on Letterboxd
Story of My Death takes as is premise the violent meeting of seventeenth century Enlightenment with the ideals of Romanticism. Serra utilizes two emblematic figures (Casanova and Dracula), as well as several styles and motifs from fine art of both eras, to embody and represent these movements and to allow this confrontation to play out in a figurative space. To this end, the film is divided into two distinct parts. The first half is set in a Rococo chateau where Casanova spends a good deal of time frivolously idling away his days discussing poetry with his manservant, entertaining prestigious writers as guests, and (true to his historic reputation) pursuing women.
The film takes a dramatic shift at about the halfway point and Casanova’s airy disposition and categorically empiricism are confronted by the opaque, chaotic forces and swirling emotions of eighteenth century Romanticism, as embodied by Dracula. The mis-en-scene changes significantly in this second half. The brightly lit and decorative interiors of the chateau are replaced with twilit exteriors of ominous forests and mysterious silhouetted castles (all of these, of course, being staples of Romantic painting). The dark visual tones of the second half, along with a sparingly used pulsing soundtrack really add to the ominous sense of doom that pervades until the end of the film. This is especially effective during an extended scene involving a pagan sacrifice of a cow.
Serra’s films are always interesting and peculiar (sometimes even transcendent) experiences, if you can let yourself get lost in them. He has a fascination with time and duration. The majority of any one of his films is usually made of up sequences of long shots where little or no action takes place. Instead his actors are concerned with little minutiae and small actions. Serra’s use of nonprofessional actors really adds to the naturalism of these tiny moments.
Story of My Death feels like a fuller and perhaps more rounded out film than Birdsong or Honor of the Knights. It certainly has much more dialogue as well as more “plot” but the film still captures what was unique and tantalizing about those previous films in its’ stripped down sensibility and subtle surrealism. This film is definitely worth a watch, if not for its’ strange poetry then at least for its memorable fecal scene.
★★★★★ review by twodeadmagpies on Letterboxd
watched on budget day. dracula in the house. heartbreaking.
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