The Clown of God

Review of Nijinsky starring George De La Pena as Nijinsky and Alan Bates as Sergio Diaghilev.

An exceptionally thoughtful view into the life of Vaslav Nijinsky, premiere danser for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The names are all here: Diaghilev, Fokine, Bakst, Stravinsky, Cecchetti, along with the future Mrs. Nijinsky, Romola, and ending in time with Diaghilev’s last boy-toy prodigy, Massine. How the characters interact with Nijinsky is well-done and we see the clash of the artists in action. We also see how Nijinsky’s descent into “madness” is consistent with pure creative genius developed without restraint. Such descent we see is, however, tempered with ascents of mania as witnessed by his impestuous love-affair-marriage to Romola.

Overall, an excellent glimpse into pieces of Nijinsky’s choreography… Faun, Jeux, and Sacre du Printemps.

It is a terrible loss not to have his work on film per Diaghilev’s paranoia that audiences would not come if the ballets were filmed. I suspect Nijinsky’s Sacre was more of a masterpiece than his Faun. Such ponderings aside, a terrible sadness one bears not knowing for sure.

Le Sacre du Printemps is an obviously Russian pagan ritual wherein the tribe desires to effect a good hunt and harvest by destroying the Evil Spirit. A temptation is offered to the Evil Spirit in the form of a maid. Said maiden bears the Evil Spirit which contorts and thrashes and ultimately breaks her body resulting in not only the death of the Evil Spirit’s host but also the spirit itself… A common theme amongst many pagan tribes and interestingly, also heavy with the Catholic exorcist crowd.

Premiered in Paris in 1913, it met with hissings and booings due to no other reason than that at that time the French were a bunch of ignorant boobs who had no culture of their own with which to identify themselves. i.e. The ballet was far beyond their basic comprehension.

As Nijinsky is counting for the dancer from the wings, we see the Evil Spirit has taken hold of him as he shakes in emphathy with the virgin maid… i.e. the Genius of Nijinsky is controlled by the Evil Spirit… madness. Similarly, we note earlier Nijinsky’s confession regarding the concluding eroticism of his first choreographic masterpiece, Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune: “It wasn’t me… It was the faun.” And, even earlier, we note Diaghilev’s repeated instructions as master/father to his puppet Nijinsky, “You must become the faun”.

Such is the breaking of the human body from the spirit that Nijinsky’s genius required of him. Such is the genius defined by mere mortals as madness.

Further suggestion upon viewing this film, one may wish to view *The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky* (2002), an excellent reading by Derek Jacobi with corresponding eye-candy which brings us closer into the mind of man’s ultimate “Clown of God”. Disclosure: One particularly disturbing scene may not be suitable for all.

© 2013, 2014, 2015 All Knitwits Reserved.

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About knitwitted

Goofette and troublemaker
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