Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day 44: "Vampyr"

Director: Carl Dreyer 1932
No Bela Lugosi. No Max Schreck. No bared fangs. No garlic. No crosses. In fact, the vampire is an old (dead, of course) woman. Really a silent film with limited dialogue (the subtitles are in Gothic lettering!) and a few sound effects, in "Vampyr" Dreyer creates the feeling of a dream, and it's the brilliant images that stay with you: a man with a scythe, shadows where shadows shouldn't be, the hero's imagined, premature burial. A beautifully photographed film filled with dread and foreboding. Be aware that the print is old, but some of the bleached-out cinematography was deliberate.
As a bonus, the DVD offers a 1934 short created by Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882-1965), a pioneering animator who fled Russia after the Revolution and settled in France. Starewicz was a master of stop-motion photography (the same method used to create the original King Kong), and this short subject, entitled "The Mascot," is an amazing example of the craft. Imaginative, a little scary, a little surreal, Starewicz' modest film had to influence "The Nightmare Before Christmas," the 1993 Tim Burton-produced stop-motion feature.


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