Friday, October 28, 2011

"Vampyr"





One of those movies that everyone seems to praise these days simply because it is old and cutting edge for its time, “Vampyr” was largely panned in its day. If “real” people were to watch it today (rather than film historians or artsy critic types) they too would probably not give it much praise. The film is lethargic and dreamy, if you can stay awake. Any early sound picture, it is a poor example of the use of sound—even for those early days. An example such as Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” is a much better first effort.


However, it is visually stunning and not just for the beautiful camera work.  It may be hard for today’s audiences to appreciate the technical magic that is happening on screen when they forget that this was shot in the early30s and everything happening on screen has to be occurring in the shot. The images of the “ghosts” in the first part of this film are pretty amazing.

The horror in this story is not the sort that people expect these days. It is not a terribly scary monster or an overly bloody tale. What it does do, what a lot of the more subtle horror stories do, is remind us of our mortality. Without being too morbid about it, that can be a healthy thing to do.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)

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