437 Vampyr

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5886
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#201 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:08 am

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
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.

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?

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10343
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#202 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 02, 2014 3:46 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: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?
It's a shame Dreyer didn't think to have him strip down to his underwear first, like a proper horror movie.

User avatar
Drucker
Posts: 4095
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#203 Post by Drucker » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:03 pm

Thank you Sloper, for a great take on that early-text piece about Allan Gray having trouble distinguishing dreams from reality. It was something that stuck out to me but I really had nothing to add about it. As I watched the film, it seemed hard to really believe that the character could possibly be imagining the whole scenario as it went on and on and on. But connecting it with the end, which is much more plausible as a dream than as Allan Gray as some sort of savior to this woman, does allow one to read the whole film as more a less a series of dream sequences of a man letting his imagination run wild!

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13557
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#204 Post by swo17 » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:42 pm

I find Sloper's suggestion of the past intruding on the present intriguing, not least because at this point, Dreyer's films are getting up there in age themselves. The traditions of the past can seem stifling from a modern perspective, but presumably for reasons that our ancestors held dear (just as we today have convictions that we hope will stand the test of time). Is Dreyer taking sides here, proposing a rejection of the past, or merely acknowledging how it hangs over everything that we do? Perhaps in his other films more than this one, does he find fault with the past itself or with how people in the present dishonor it by twisting it to fit their own ends?

User avatar
Drucker
Posts: 4095
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#205 Post by Drucker » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:07 pm

"How people in the present dishonor it by twisting it to fit their own ends", Swo, is definitely the nail on the head for me. Like Griffith, Dreyer's films often are centered on both 1) innocence of good characters and 2) the hypocrisy of others. Joan of Arc is an example where both contrast perfectly in Dreyer's film. Master Of The House being another one.

I don't think Dreyer ever truly picks sides of old versus new. To me, the past in his films is a tool of those in power. In Master of the House, isn't the Master dishonoring the past by not honoring his wife? At the same time, the young couple in Ordet, if I remember correctly, are violating their own family's "past," and the other family's elder is seen as irrational (I haven't seen the film in 4 years, so sorry if i am mis-remembering).

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Posts: 5931
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#206 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:21 pm

The head of the other household in Ordet definitely comes off as a viciously doctrinal traditionalist, but that feels more like it's part of the film's critique of organized religion and the way it blots out faith than anything to do with the battle of old vs. new.

User avatar
Sloper
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

Re: Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

#207 Post by Sloper » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:12 am

Mr Sausage wrote: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!
Very nicely put. I think a big part of this film's creepiness resides in the constant sense that Gray is drawn into a set of rituals and patterns that have been repeating themselves for several generations - and I like your point about the element of 'deduction' being removed by the absurdly helpful explanations found in the book. The characters seem to be left with nothing to do, no agency. The book does of course give them instructions on how to break the curse, by killing the vampire, and Gray accomplishes this (with the help of his fellow bookworm, the manservant) just after attaining 'peak impotence', in his dream of living-death-and-burial. But after this, arguably, the film goes on to follow the pattern established in Dreyer's other films, where the set narratives, rituals, orthodoxies and texts are surpassed and transcended. The book becomes irrelevant in the final reel, and both Gray and the manservant seem to be acting in ambiguous harmony with the benevolent (but vengeful) spirits that have taken over at the end. At least, that's one alternative to the reading I suggested above, and maybe a more persuasive one...
swo17 wrote:Is Dreyer taking sides here, proposing a rejection of the past, or merely acknowledging how it hangs over everything that we do? Perhaps in his other films more than this one, does he find fault with the past itself or with how people in the present dishonor it by twisting it to fit their own ends?
Drucker wrote:Like Griffith, Dreyer's films often are centered on both 1) innocence of good characters and 2) the hypocrisy of others. Joan of Arc is an example where both contrast perfectly in Dreyer's film. Master Of The House being another one.
matrixschmatrix wrote:The head of the other household in Ordet definitely comes off as a viciously doctrinal traditionalist, but that feels more like it's part of the film's critique of organized religion and the way it blots out faith than anything to do with the battle of old vs. new.
I don't think the conflicts always centre on 'the past' or the old as such, but the antagonist in Dreyer's films is usually some form of received idea, orthodoxy, prejudice or superstition, and it's often signalled by a piece of heavily foregrounded text: the legal records that punctuate Day of Wrath, for example, or the panning shot of 'BORGENSGAARD' at the start of Ordet, a loftily inscribed word that comes to be associated with old Morten's doctrinal rigidity ('no son of Borgensgaard will ever, etc.'), and perhaps stands in contrast with the unspoken, unwritten 'word' referred to in the film's title, the word that means simple, unprejudiced faith.

But as swo says about the distinction between 'the past' and 'those who twist it to fit their own ends', I'm not sure whether it's organised religion as such that Dreyer tends to oppose or just the way it gets enlisted to support conflicts and persecutions that have nothing to do with religion. Look at Rylowitsch in Love One Another, disguising himself as a monk to stir up anti-Semitic feelings; the importance of the military presence in Joan of Arc, hanging over the ostensibly Christian trial (which several of the monks speak out against); or the ending of Day of Wrath, which is really motivated by the mother's jealousy rather than by any genuine religious fervour.

telamonides
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:03 am

Re: 437 Vampyr

#208 Post by telamonides » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:01 pm

This title is currently showing as 'Out of Print' on criterion's webpage. Are they just reissuing with new ISBN or is something going on here?

User avatar
CSM126
Posts: 1447
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
Contact:

Re: 437 Vampyr

#209 Post by CSM126 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:51 pm

Most likely they're changing the packaging to a standard plastic case and dropping the huge book. Happens from time to time (eg. Short Cuts).

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13557
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 437 Vampyr

#210 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:37 pm


Apperson
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:47 pm
Location: Oxfordshire, UK

Re: 437 Vampyr

#211 Post by Apperson » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:38 pm

No mention of any new restoration it seems.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 28731
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: 437 Vampyr

#212 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:38 pm

Interestingly it lists the book...

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13557
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 437 Vampyr

#213 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:41 pm

I'm thinking those specs haven't been updated yet. Aren't they all true of the DVD?

Gambit1138
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 2:29 pm

Re: 437 Vampyr

#214 Post by Gambit1138 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:42 pm

Pretty sure this page is only half-updated. The Blu-ray is listed as one disc, despite saying Double-Disc Set. Also, the Vampyr re-issue for the DVD nixed the book. It'd be amazing if it was brought back, though. It's a fantastic read.

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Posts: 3001
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: 437 Vampyr

#215 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:44 pm

Yes. I just checked Beaver's original review. Even the wording of the transfer is the same.

kekid
Posts: 623
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:55 pm

Re: 437 Vampyr

#216 Post by kekid » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:25 pm

Apperson wrote:
No mention of any new restoration it seems.
Nor the release date.

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Posts: 3811
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: 437 Vampyr

#217 Post by cdnchris » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:29 pm

The sell sheets simply reflect what's on the site, so it's possible the book will be included again

• High-definition digital transfer of the original
German version of the film, from the 1998
restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di
Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Alternate version with English text
• Audio commentary featuring film scholar
Tony Rayns
• Carl Th. Dreyer, a 1966 documentary by Jørgen Roos
chronicling Dreyer’s career
• Video essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer’s
influences in creating Vampyr
• Radio broadcast from 1958 of Dreyer reading an
essay about filmmaking
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Mark Le
Fanu and Kim Newman, a piece by Koerber on the
restoration, and a 1964 interview with producer and
actor Nicolas de Gunzburg
• AND: A book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul’s
original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872
story “Carmilla,” a source for the film

The date is October 3rd.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13557
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 437 Vampyr

#218 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:32 pm

The page no longer lists the book among the specs. It actually doesn't show a Blu-ray listing now either.

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Posts: 3001
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: 437 Vampyr

#219 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:06 pm

The bluray listing including the release date and book are back.

I don't have high hopes for this to be a good looking bluray.

FlickeringWindow
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:27 pm

Re: 437 Vampyr

#220 Post by FlickeringWindow » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:43 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:The bluray listing including the release date and book are back.

I don't have high hopes for this to be a good looking bluray.
Actually, the DVD has surprisingly good tonal range for being from nth generation elements. I'd expect it to be similar to Sunrise in quality.

User avatar
Drucker
Posts: 4095
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: 437 Vampyr

#221 Post by Drucker » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:33 pm

Seems more than likely they upgraded when stock ran out as with other dated-mastered upgrades.

User avatar
jsteffe
Posts: 1009
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:00 am
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: 437 Vampyr

#222 Post by jsteffe » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:48 am

Based on the product description ("high definition digital transfer") it sounds as if it is the same transfer originally released on DVD. It should still look better, what with the superior resolution and dynamic range of Blu-ray. It would not surprise me if the grey tonalities in the film are rendered with more atmosphere, to say nothing of the grain.

If they made a new transfer of the same restoration, that would be even better--but I'm fine with a simple Blu-ray upgrade.

Orlac
Posts: 570
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:29 am

Re: 437 Vampyr

#223 Post by Orlac » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:12 am

Pity the alternate French and US versions couldn't be included.

Robespierre
Posts: 73
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:31 pm

Re: 437 Vampyr

#224 Post by Robespierre » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:48 am

Was anyone else really disappointed with this one? I guess I hyped it up to myself a lot and I didn't really know what to expect from a Dreyer horror film but I felt Vampyr was terribly dated and stretched a thin concept to the point where I didn't care about any of it.

Orlac
Posts: 570
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:29 am

Re: 437 Vampyr

#225 Post by Orlac » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:14 am

I felt it could have done without the lengthy book inserts, which interferes with the dreamlike feel.

Post Reply