Vampyr Film Critique Essay

Submitted By mchalter
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Mary
Film Critique

Vampyr
May 6, 1932
Directed by: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Produced by: Tobis-Klangfilm
Starring: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel

“The Dead, not at peace because of the terrible deed they did while living, rise from their coffins…” Vampires. In a world of shadows and darkness, they creep through the dark seeking a victim’s blood. The protagonist, Allan Gray, studied vampires and other horrors of the night never thinking the supernatural could come into his own world. Vampyr, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is one of the first horror films created filled with many shadows, diverse camera moves and an unexpected vampire. Though the film flopped when it was first released, today it is considered one of Dreyer's best films because he wasn't afraid to experiment at the time. The first intertitle starts off telling the story of Allan Gray, a studier of devil worship and vampires, and he’s looking for a hotel to stay in for the night. Even though it takes several tries, he eventually finds a place to stay and falls asleep. Awakened by an elderly man, Gray finds a package left by the elderly man saying, “To be opened upon my death.” Gray leaves the hotel and goes into the village where he finds the old man has been murdered. Gray goes into the older man’s house to call for the police where he meets Giséle and Léone; the old man’s daughters. Instead of staying in the hotel for the night, Gray now stays in Giséle and Léone’s house. Léone is ill; in spite of this, she goes outside walking where she gets injured with a strange bite wound. Gray now opens the package from earlier, and he finds in it a journal about vampires. As he reads, Gray discovers the bite wound Léone is a bite from a Vampyr; He also learns Vampyrs can use humans to their advantage. Before he can discover how to stop the Vampyr, Gray gives a blood transfusion to save Léone’s life. He then goes to sleep because of giving blood. While resting, he has a premonition that something bad is going to happen. As he awakes, Gray goes to Léone’s room to see the doctor, who was taking care of her, trying to poison her. The doctor escapes. Gray discovers how to destroy the vampires; he must stab some sort of object through its heart, so the vampire can have a true death. A servant and Gray find the grave of the vampire and kill the Vampyr. Léone lives because the Vampyr is destroyed. The doctor, who earlier had escaped, is killed in a flourmill. The movie ends with Giséle and Gray crossing a foggy river in a boat. Photography in this movie was not used very often. There were only two main points where it really stood out. When Allan Gray starts reading the journal left to him by the elderly man, several intertitles are used show the audience member what Gray is reading. When watching the movie, the viewer is in the point of view of Allan Gray. The next photography shot Dreyer used is when Gray first arrives to the hotel. He views a portrait of a few people grouped around a bed. They seemed worried about the one resting in the bed: “We can assign several functions to this picture... That the picture prefigures those later scenes wherein characters gather around Léone’s bed to weep and pray for her” (Bordwell 97-98). Dreyer had Gray look at the portrait to foreshadow what was later to come: Léone being bit by a Vampyr. Dreyer’s actors, though most non-professional, performed well in this film. For example, the actor who played Allan Gray had his first role in this film. James Travers, a Film Critique writes, despite his “obvious lack of acting experiences (and talent)[, it] works to the film’s advantage – he is a passive observer whose role is merely to provide the gateway by which the spectator may enter the film” (Travers). Dreyer uses the actor who plays Gray’s inexperience to help the film look the best it can along with his other actors. In Dreyer’s film, he only used, in fact, two professional actors, yet the film was still able to…