(French/German, 1932, 65 minutes, b/w, 16 mm)
following film notes were prepared for the New York State Writers
Institute by Kevin Jack Hagopian, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies
at Pennsylvania State University:
To help us understand David’s confusion, his terror and his fascination, Dreyer keeps us continually disoriented. The film’s surface retains a sleek, impenetrable whiteness, unmotivated by verisimilitude. Odd noises appear on the soundtrack: bells ring, a child cries, voices mumble and moan. Actors slink through the darkness like wraiths, and the camera silently glides after them, pursuing them deep into their half-realized obsessions. “I wanted to create the daydream on film and wanted to show that horror is not a part of the things around us, but of our own subconscious mind,” said Dreyer of these deft, ambiguous cinematic moves.
Perhaps most provocative is the sexuality that Dreyer freely associates with vampirism, an element used by later versions of the vampire tale, such as the films of Hammer Studios and THE HUNGER. But the effortless transition between sexual styles in VAMPYR is a way of signifying that, in life as in death, the categories we believe are our destiny may be as random as a cloud passing over the moon on a dark night in the Carpathian mountains.
— Kevin Hagopian, Penn State University
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.