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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vampyr (1932)

A young man (Nicolas De Gunzburg acting under the name Julian West) staying at a small French country inn finds himself drawn to a small chateau outside the town where there is evidence of evil, possibly in the form of vampirism. Loosely based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu's IN A GLASS DARKLY, Carl Theodor Dreyer's enigmatic vampire tale is more Poe than Bram Stoker. The narrative makes little sense and is best watched as a surreal dream than a traditional vampire tale. Indeed, Dreyer seems little interested in the actual horror genre, there are no real frights, but rather as an excuse to use cinema in shaping a hypnagogic atmosphere where reality and apparition are so blended that you can't tell one from the other. Dialog is extremely minimal and Dreyer uses intertitles frequently so that the film actually seems more like a silent film than a talkie. Long dismissed as minor Dreyer, I much prefer it to his late works like ORDET and GERTRUD. The cast consists of mostly non professionals but this is not a film dependent on acting. The "actors" are used like chess pieces with Dreyer playing a solitary chess game. De Gunzberg was actually a wealthy titled Baron, who funded the film. With Sybille Schmitz and Maurice Schutz.

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