Evolution of Vampires in Cinema


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For many centuries, people liked different legends and were fascinated by mysticism. One of the examples is vampires. Many books are written and many movies are made about them where they are shown as cruel, scary, night creatures. A vampire is a dead creature that is supposed to leave its grave at night and suck blood from living people. They are the people’s ideas about a superman: there are no barriers for them; they sweep away everything in their path. This creature always presents a tragic destiny because it is characterized by inner anxiety and inability to cope with its nature. Its image has been changing since the beginning of the previous century. That is why the history of evolution of vampires in years is interesting for many people.

The most popular works about the vampires in literature are “Giaur” by Byron, “Dracula” by Brem Stoker, “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer, and others. The cinematography works are brighter and emotionally expressive: “Nosferatu. Symphony of Terror” by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, “Hunger” by Tony Scott, etc. The transformation of the image and behavior of the vampires in the movies have been changing for tens of years.

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In 1922, the silent film “Nosferatu. Symphony of Terror”, shot by German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, came out on the screens. It had a great success. The vampire’s image was very frightening; it demonstrated cruelty, cynicism, and complete disregard to people. The Cable News Network (CNN) entertainment describes the main character: “Count Orlock is a monster – pointy ears, long claws and a sinister gaze. He’s followed around by rats, sleeps in a filthy coffin and is devoted to spreading death and disease”. Same impression it produces on people nowadays.

For many years, the images of the vampires in the movies were similar. The first film about them shown in a different way was “Dracula” (U.S.A.). It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1992. There are three main characters in this movie such as Dracula himself, Mina, who Dracula saw as his beloved, and Jonathan – Mina’s fiancé. Throughout the movie, Dracula appears in front of different characters in different looks. For Jonathan he is an old man with pale skin, with hair in the shape of a heart, and with long clawed fingers. For Mina he turns into a beautiful man, with long wavy hair and aristocratic appearance. To the end of the film, he looks like a giant terrible monster with red eyes. His behavior with the specific characters is completely different either kind or horrible.

Next film “Van Helsing” 2004 directed by Stephen Sommers (U.S.A.) [5] is quite similar to “Dracula”. The main character appears with the same pale face and with aristocratic features. He can turn into a monster, something like a terrible bat. This creature has huge wings, giant beast thin body, and terrifying face with the fanged mouth. But unlike Coppola’s, new Dracula has no human feelings. He is a cruel, cynical, heartless bloodsucker. He does not care about someone’s life or feelings.

One more film the most popular vampire saga nowadays is “Twilight” 2008 directed by Catherine Hardwicke (U.S.A.). The viewers see the vampires looking like common people. Nevertheless, they are essentially different comparing to them: extremely fast, strong, shine in the sun. Their eyes are yellow or red. There are some “vegetarian vampires” who prefer to drink the blood of animals not humans. Vampires demonstrate human feelings: they can love and hate, be jealous, and, of course, sacrifice themselves.

Over the years, vampires have changed their images and characters. In 1922 the vampire looked nothing like a man. In 70 years, it was presented in two images as a human and as a monster. That time the vampire had feelings, it could do bad things in the name of love. Later vampires are keeping their representations but they lost their humanity. They felt nothing at all. Then the vampires did not differ from ordinary people. They did not drink human blood; they had all human feelings: love, fear, happiness, etc. Throughout all these years, the vampires from singles turned into families and even entire communities. The film “Underworld” 2017 shows that transformation perfectly.

Why do people not quench their interest in these films? In 1922 people watched those films just for the emotional excitement. Now, it can be assumed, they see the prototypes of modern community in these characters. In modern society, people become the vampires. People are cruel, selfish, greedy and unfeeling. Maybe the contemporaries are watching these films because they want to find the answer how to return the humanity that our world needs so much.

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