(New Zealand, 2013, 105 mins, DCP)
FEATURING Gillian Murphy, Qi Huan, Abigail Boyle, Jacob Chown
PROD Matthew Metcalfe
CAM Leon Narbey
ED Dan Kircher
PROD DES Howard C. Jones
CHOR Johan Kobborg, Ethan Stiefel (after Marius Petipa)
MUS Adolphe Adam
PROD CO GFC (Giselle) Ltd.
Classification: G - No advisory


This cinematic interpretation of the New Zealand Royal Ballet’s universally lauded production of the great romantic ballet Giselle seems somewhat essential. After all, the stars—American Ballet Theater’s Gillian Murphy and acclaimed Chinese dancer Qi Huan—are titans of the ballet world who practically demand to be rendered larger than life. Furthermore, this classic tale of a peasant girl obsessed with dance and the already engaged nobleman who courts her possesses all the alluring qualities that draw us to the big screen: desire, deception, revenge and elements of the supernatural.

Shot in Auckland, New York City and Shanghai by Toa Fraser (No. 2, VIFF06), the film not only captures the dynamic movements onstage but also offers us fleeting glimpses of the intimacy shared by its stars behind the scenes. Given Martin Scorsese’s standing infatuation with the ballet drama The Red Shoes, it’s only fitting that Fraser has admitted turning to Marty’s The Last Waltz for aesthetic and structural inspiration. The result is a superb document of an epochal performance.

“Leon Narbey’s cinematography beautifully captures the details you might not see from theatre seats, portraying the action from high angles, or intimate close-ups, making the most of the dancers’ acting skills, as well as bringing every important twitch of the legs into relief… It’s a dramatic, emotive story and Fraser’s presentation only enhances the dreamy escapism.”—Lydia Jenkin, New Zealand Herald

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Matthew Metcalfe
General Film Corporation