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Vampire phenomenon in a literature and cinema
Dark, enigmatic creature feeding on the blood from its victims, almost immortal monster coming straight from the hell… A character adored by variety writers and movie makers known as a vampire is not only a trivial figure that is supposed to give some fun for thirsty of thrilling emotions teenagers- it’s also a legendary being. The roots of this legend reach the ancient, Slovakian beliefs. Slovakians believed in such creatures as demons, werewolves and obviously- vampires. What is interesting, not only Slovakian legends mention about this demonic villain- even in a Bible you can find an allusion to a blood-drinking monster called Alukah. Furthermore, in a Greek mythology, Arabian and Japanese one you can find the stories about mystic half-human half-demon creatures. A vampire as an ezoterical and exceptional figure became a very interesting character also for artists. In my work I’d like to focus on particular visions of a vampire drawn from literature and cinema.
I’m going to start with the most popular one performed by Bram Stoker in a story called: “Dracula”. The writer created a classical figure of a vampire that has became some kind of canon for the horror stories, some pattern after which has followed lots of makers adapting Dracula for their own productions. Incidentally even Bram Stoker during creating his story was inspired by Vlad Tepes- XV age Wallachian ruler who was known from his cruelty and violence in relation to his political enemies. There originated some legend supposedly Tepes was a descendant of the satan. And actually on this basis Bram Stoker’s work was made. In “Dracula” we can find a lot of folk elements such as the fact that vampires are afraid of religious symbols, that they don’t have any shadow and mirror reflection and finally the fact that they sleep in coffins fulfilled with the ground soaked of their ancestors’ blood …
Stoker’s Dracula can convert into a bat, he’s also somehow connected with animals (particularly wolves and rats) and there occur some bonds between him and Gypsy folk. Here a vampire is a typical monster with terrible appearance reminding an animal.
It is said that a vampire is immortal. However there are some ways to kill him. How to get rid of these seemingly unrealizable being? Bram Stoker “disposed” of Dracula by drilling his heart by an aspen peg, cutting off his head and putting the garlic into his mouth what was supposed to destroy him till the end of time. And what about the vampires’ origin? Well, the author doesn’t say much about this problem-in a book you can only find that they are beings of infernal origin associated with a devil.
On the ground of higher mentioned work there was formed one of the first horrors in the history of cinema. German “Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror” is a brilliant adaptation of Stoker’s “Dracula”. It tells a story of some young man going to Transylvania in order to finalize some contract with an eccentric aristocrat called Orlock. During his journey, the man finds a Vampires Book where is written that a vampire called Nosferatu is a demon who comes from Belial’s seed. Who Belial is? Well, it’s one of the sunk angels, very often connected with a satan. And actually I’d like to keep your attention on recurring infernal motif- both “Dracula” and “Nosferatu…” are reminded with an evil.
Generally, the movie is very similar even analogical to its prototype. The only thing that I can add is the fact that here the vampire dies in a situation when he stays with a woman of a “pure heart” and forgets about the morning and becomes killed by the sunbeams.
At the end, it’s worth to mark that the movie is a wonderful work not only because of it’s the first such production but for the reason that in its simplicity, not using grusome scenes, it wakes in receiver an authentic feeling of fear. A vital element is a music- specific, impressive, evoking fear and thrilling emotions.
Completely different figure of the vampire created American writer - Anne Rice. In her books blood-drinking creatures are decisively more majestic, they are beautiful, intelligent, impress by their power and also sensibility.
And in this way on basis of her work under the title: “Interview with the vampire” there was directed a movie about this same title. It tells about adventures of three beings- eccentric personalities existing in an illusory world that they cannot understand. Here we can find some particular paradox - a vampire is a creature seemingly good - one of the characters who doesn’t want to harm the livings, drinks animal’s blood.
This movie shows the vampires by analyzing their personality focusing on their human actions, behaviours and reflections. Their society has their own laws (for example killing other vampire is a serious crime, furthermore there is not allowed to create young ones because immature inviduals are too weak and don’t have the right to live within the community).
“Interview with the vampire” can’t be also called as a horror cinema. It’s rather dramatic story expressing an agony of vampires’ faith. The characters look for the answers to basic, existential questions such as their origin or doubts in relation to existence of God or satan. As Nosferatu horrifies of his bloodthirsty appearance, the “Interview with the vampire” characters impress by their grace and beauty.
I’d like to mention also about two very important items in Anne Rice’s creativity. Worked titled as “Queen of the damned” despite of the fact that tires of too intensive exaltation and the action is not enough dynamic, contains one particular plot. I mean a very interesting theory about the origin of vampires’ nation. The author denied the thesis supposedly Transylvania was a motherland of blood-drinking creatures- Anne Rice referred to their Egyptian roots. Their existence is supposed to be a result of some secretive demon activity that attacked a pair of Egyptian rulers, changed them into vampires and actually from them comes from every vampire on Earth. This hypothesis seems to be very intriguing. Anne Rice creates here a specific vampire mythology that fascinates and presents their world in such way that none of artists have done before.
As I said before, here vampires are completely different from that originally created. Such remedies as garlic and aspen pegs seem to be not enough. They are not afraid of religious places and crucifixes-straight oppositely- they are fascinated with religious symbols. They die only because of contact with the fire or sunbeams or due to drinking dead’s blood. However, even here the author stepped aside from some canon- not every vampire can die because of contact with the sunbeams. Those possessing the ancients’ blood the sun can only hurt but not destroy. And here occurs the next paradox because the sun as a symbol of life is supposed to absolutely damage the night monsters, creatures of the darkness. Here a vampire is very human, is analyzed as a suffering creature. For him the immortality is a curse, permanent loneliness and deep emptiness. Such attitude presents vampire Lestat for example in “The Tale of the Body Thief”. He’s bored with present existence and wants to feel again like a human. He meets a human with supernatural skills who makes him possible to come back to human’s body.
A very important role plays here “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
“The Tale…” is full of symbols related to this work. Goethe’s drama is read by one of the characters. The work has a huge influence on him and persuades him to reflections about human existence. And in this way you can find a similarity between Faust and vampires created by Anne Rice. First of all, similarly as the main character of Goethe’s work, they make for ideal, to get know the unknown, they’ve got many doubts and existential fears. Here the vampire is a romantic hero- sensible, lonely outsider not understood by the surrounding, not able to agree to present conventions, feeling the pain of living. In this case vampires are not cruel blood- drinkers but shaped romantic personalities concentrated on their grace, believing that can change the world but also feeling the pain and suffering more intensively than the rest of society. Vampires in Anne Rice’s creativity are very powerful. They can fly, have such skills as telepathy and telekinesis. However, in spite of these impressive qualities they are very tragic beings, having no peace to huge expanse of infinity…
To sum up, I come to the conclusion that a figure of the vampire created in literature and cinema is more various. Not necessarily have to be connected with occultism, satanism and the other degenerations. As you’ve written it’s rather the unknown, ezoterical demon. By means of artists it forms in variety shapes and thanks to this, the receiver has got an opportunity to make oneself interpretation of this character. To the receiver, the vampire phenomenon is the most of all a mystic event that is enveloped of a secretive aura. It’s a happening that is an inspiration not only for literary men and movie makers but also for musicians and variety subcultures. It’s an event that somehow stepped in our pop culture and not necessarily has got to be perceived in a negative way.
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