Lurking in the blind space: Vampyr and the multilinguals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932) has been praised as an avant-garde masterpiece that creates a sense of horror by strategically denying the spectator visual access to key turning points in the plot, including most notably the gruesome vampire attacks. Previous scholarship has treated the visual impediments in the film as deriving primarily from a conscious aesthetic strategy on Dreyer’s part to enhance the sense of mystery and terror by undermining the spectatorial gaze. This article links the visual obfuscation in the film instead to Vampyr’s status as a post-synchronized, multilingual sound film, which motivated Dreyer to deny the spectator a view of the actors’ moving lips. I argue that Dreyer turned a production limitation into an artistic virtue by discursively framing the denial of vision as an overall aesthetic strategy, thus effectively ‘masking’ what could otherwise have been viewed as an embarrassing concession to financial constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-239
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Scandinavian Cinema
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2015

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Keywords

  • Auteur cinema
  • Carl Th. Dreyer
  • Cultural adaptation
  • Linguistic adaptation
  • Multilingual film
  • Sound film
  • Vampyr

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