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First made famous on the big screen in F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror’ – which was presented by the Institute with live accompaniment by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in our A Symphony of Films series in 2016 – the legend of the bloodthirsty tormented soul gets a different treatment in another landmark film: Carl Dreyer’s ‘Vampyr’.
From ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’ (Werner Herzog’s update of Murnau’s silent classic), the staggering number of films featuring Count Dracula, and many other works, we are well aware of the various elements of the vampire tale – the dead who can find no rest, the need for human blood, the evil beings’ manipulative nature and the ways they can be killed.
Rather than focusing on the vampire, Dreyer’s film examines the malevolent creature’s victims, positing vampirism as a sort of virus that infects members of the community who then turn against those nearest and dearest to them. With that, souls are delivered to the malicious forces of evil. Dreyer’s first sound film – it comes immediately after his magnificent ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ – ‘Vampyr’ is a tour-de-force of dramatic moody lighting, chiaroscuro and a softened focus that gives the entire work a sense of eerie, dreamy non-reality.
About the Director
Born in Copenhagen in 1889, Carl Th. Dreyer is widely considered among the best filmmakers in the history of cinema. He began working in the film industry in 1913, but it was not until 1928 that he saw critical success, with the hauntingly beautiful ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. His other significant films include ‘Vampyr’ (1932), ‘Day of Wrath’ (1943), ‘Ordet’ (1955) and ‘Gertrud’ (1964). Dreyer died in 1968.
- Carl Theodor Dreyer
- Carl Theodor Dreyer, Christen Jul
- Tonka Taldy
- Production Designer
- Hermann Warm
- Wolfgang Zeller
- Rudolph Maté
- Sales Company
- The Danish Film Institute | The Danish Film Archive
- Production Company
- Film-Production Carl Dreyer
- Hans Bittmann
- Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz, Jan Hieronimko