With the design inspired by Beardsley, who, like Wilde, supported Aestheticism that placed the sensuous pleasure of Art over a moral or sentimental message and thought nature was crude and defectively devised, the film partly betrays its original speculations. The high artificiality of the characters places them beyond good and evil indeed, but the organic motifs, dreamily stylized, quaky (elytra cloaks, morel wigs),
Wouldn't be nearly as interesting (or famous) without Natacha Rambova's extravagant costume design. Everything comes to life, especially Nazimova's shining head piece, and the visuals highlight the choreography nicely. Mostly though the avant-garde aspect is stiffly executed, and the slow motion acting in particular is excrutiating to watch. Of the early experimental films I much prefer the powerful Lot in Sodom.
This movie is like if Aubrey Beardsley made sweet, sweet love to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Mostly delightful, even though they left out my favourite part ("Ah! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit," etc). The visuals still conveyed that morbid, teasing eroticism, though. Oh, and I love her outfits.