From the archive

This film was last shown on 17 February 2014

With a score by Paul Robinson, performed by the HarmonieBand:
Paul Robinson - Keyboard/Sound diffusion
Dai Pritchard - Sax and Clarinets (Ex Loose Tubes)
Adam Robinson - Violin and Viola (Threads Orchestra)

An early sound film shot with a distinctive and evocative silent film aesthetic, Vampyr is a horror movie as tone poem. Dialogue is sparse and large blocks of text (either intertitles or pages from a book of vampire lore) provide the exposition. It’s an eerily abstract film of vague motivations and ethereal imagery from the opening scenes.

Our hero Allan Gray is vaguely interested in the supernatural, but he walks into a village like a dazed innocent whose walking tour of familiar countryside takes him into unfamiliar terrain, a cursed village that is, for all intents and purposes, isolated from the world. A villager with a scythe rings a bell on a misty lake as he arrives, already conjuring a feeling of death and portents of supernatural things to come.

Gray discovers shadows without bodies and a tormented young woman with vague wounds treated by an unnerving doctor who only visits at night. He embarks on a spirit journey to watch his own funeral, from both within and without his casket simultaneously. Julian West (the pseudonym of Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg, who also financed the film) is a blank, inexpressive actor, more convincing as a creepy corpse than a living hero, but his languid expression makes his passive protagonist just another part of the dreamy world.


Carl Theodor Dreyer
80 mins


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