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Vampyr (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
If by "poor quality," the reference is to the washed out, somewhat spotty look of the print, please be aware that this was deliberate. Cinematographer Matté had accidently opened a can of exposed film, and when Dreyer saw the result, he was delighted. It was just the effect he had been looking for.
This film was originally shot as a silent. It was only later half-dubbed with voice-overs. Again, however, like the fortuitous "damage" to the print, the sparse and somewhat vague, even incoherent, dialogue contributes to the sense of dislocation which, I believe, is one of the great virtues of this genre masterpiece.
The scenario inspired by Irish Huguenot writer Sheridan Le Fanu's novella CARMILLA and influenced by F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU is probably the closest cinematic equivalent of a dream captured on film. It certainly influenced Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which was 14 years later. The film is actually more of a nightmare as it follows a young protagonist through village inns and country estates on the trail of a female vampire who against conventional tradition is old and wizened rather than young and beautiful. Strange things happen. Shadows have a life of their own, the hero watches himself from above as he is buried alive, and it contains one of the strangest death scenes ever filmed which was borrowed from D.W. Griffith's A CORNER IN WHEAT. The entire film was designed to be pale with lots of fog and scenes shot through gauze over the camera lens. It was photographed by Rudolph Mate' who had done Dreyer's previous film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. Once seen it cannot be forgotten.Read more ›
First things first; the film has no tangible plot to follow except that the storyline is loosely strung on a young man's attempt to fight vampirism in a small (Danish?) town. While the lack of plot sounds bad in the abstract, there is so much strength in the movie's other attributes that the issue of story structure soon fades in the viewer's mind. Imagery provides 'Vampyr' with its rasion d'etre. One haunting, shadowy image segues into the next to make for a horror experience that's far subtler than what Universal Studios was starting to crank out at the time of this film's release. Director Carl Dreyer apparently shot some of the scenes through gauze to enhance the ghost-like wispiness of the sequences.
The effect is utterly magical. Combine that with kinks like reverse filming (man 'digging' the grave), an eerie cello/clarinet-led score as well as a virtually absent dialogue and you've got a film that addresses horror on a high level.
It's important to understand this as you watch, although the scenes are consistently textured enough to remind you that you're trapped in a black and white nightmare experience for the entire duration of the picture. The film seems to become more ethereal every minute and by the time the vampiric crone is done away with, the viewer has been through too harrowing an affair to be able to see how a semi-happy ending can make those feelings of disquiet ebb away. It must be said that it took guts to produce this film.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a strange trip into a world of half light and shadows which seem to have a life of their own. A classic of its kind and hard to shake after you've seen it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by lleard
Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr by Ivette Fred Rivera
A wonderful artwork. In the course of my study of the novel Dracula by Stoker, and the original and careful film adaptations... Read more
This isn't his best film, but EVEN if it were his worst, Carl Dreyer is orders-of-magnitude greater than the best directors I've seen since his time.Published 3 months ago by Marc E. Manis
Vampyr ranks in many circles as one of the greatest horror films of all time. Read more
For those of us who appreciate well done films of the vampire legend, no library would be complete without Carl Theodor Dreyer's "Vampyr. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M. Oleson
One of my very favorite movies! Very dark and surreal, it's hard to believe it was filmed almost a hundred years ago. Sad that so much of the original footage was lost. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Liz Alexander
Terrible movie. I dont get the hype. The whole storyline is broken and it doesnt make any sense whatsoever. Most overrated movie, ever. Read morePublished 7 months ago by El Chupacabra
Excellent. Arrived on time and in superb quality. Impressed. Well done!Published 14 months ago by Gerry Phelan
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I'm a fan of this little-known(at least, when comparing to other classics of the vampire genre)film. It just has this eerie/spooky atmosphere that I love in a vampire movie. Criterion is the studio to give this movie justice. Can't wait until the DVD either. ;)
Apr 21, 2008 by bOoKwOrM | See all 2 posts
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