As someone who likes poring through old books, even ones in languages I don't know, in order to enjoy a similar atmosphere of the archaic and esoteric, I appreciate those book excerpts, tho' I can't say I ever felt dislocated or pulled into an a-termporal dream-state by them (interesting point, tho'). I'm glad you pointed out that the book was originally conceived as a diary, because it does get absurdly specific at times, to the point of identifying the specific vampire haunting the specific region the characters inhabit. It actually makes the crucial element of these kinds of scenes--deduction--irrelevant since it spells out the necessary connections.sloper wrote:Seen in this light, as fragments of a delirious dream-fantasy rather than as a clumsy narrative device, the seemingly endless shots of the vampire book do become more absorbing. It helps if you embrace their soporific effect and lose track of time; it helps even more if you turn the subtitles off and just take in the images, the slow camera movements, the subtle lighting effects, the blackened spots on the book. We don’t really need to know what the words say, beyond understanding that they tell the characters what they need (and want) to hear. But we do need to know what the book stands for: a voice from the past, archaic lore demanding to be applied to the present, morbidly fixated on liminal states, death and damnation, and itself existing in a liminal state, at once a possession of the murdered father, a volume from Allan’s library, and an object that seems to compel the attention of the manservant by an almost supernatural force, slowly drawing his gaze towards itself, arresting his attention with the first line, ‘As soon as the Vampire feels his victim is completely under his control...’, drawing this rather clichéd ‘down-to-earth’ subordinate into the web of demonological intrigue and fantasy
Thinking about it, the book doesn't so much compel the past into the present as pull the present into the past since it comes across as a description of the very events occurring in the narrative. The old book, which kicks off the supernatural events proper, seems to pull Gray into its world (which fits with the theme of Gray being Quixotic, in the sense of having an imagination driven wild by books--also a late addition), forcing him, a person from the present, to reenact events from the distant past. One could well read the movie as being about a person forced to inhabit a story!
Reminds me of that horror conceit of characters finding the work-in-progress of a horror author and discovering it contains exact descriptions of everything the characters had experienced up to that point (and perhaps beyond).
Also, is Vampyr the first example of a character hearing a creak or other noise coming from some part of a strange house and going to investigate?