Shadow of a Vampire, Post Modernism
Vampire Essay The text Dracula was written in a time long before post-modernism, when Victorian values were considered important and issues relating gender were established. Nosferatu was also written in the time of modernism, where there was a sense in that western culture had lost its values. Shadow of a Vampire is a recent, post-modern text that focuses on the filming methods and techniques used to film Nosferatu.
Using post-modern techniques that are comparable to satire in some scenes, Shadow of a Vampire combines the two gothic texts into a new text, using a film within a film technique.
As previously noted, Dracula, Nosferatu and Shadow of a Vampire all incorporate a gothic sense as in they involve; a castle, shadows, a beam of moonlight in the blackness and the only source of light failing (a candle blown out or an electric failure). All these are used in the three texts to use imagery on black and white as good and evil, for example Christian values are good and promiscuous woman are bad in Dracula. Shadow of a Vampire contradicts this by making the text set in Berlin during a time of massive drug use (particular morphine which gives you an effect quite like Draculas bite) and promiscuous activity was large.
Shadow of a Vampire uses pastiche to imitate the filming of the original Nosferatu text, but normally adds its own twist to the stereotypical vampire story. Such as the scene in the night, after the building of the makeshift ship on the set count Orlak sneaks up on the two film producers, making the audience think that he is about to attack and kill them. He ends up drinking and getting drunk with them, and even eating a vampire bat in front them. A symbolic factor in all vampire stories is the bat but Orlak shows he has no care for the traditional modernist view in this scene.
When Orlak is asked about how he feels about the book this triggers a text within a text within a text, being a movie based on Nosferatu making a mention on Dracula. The constant attempt by the film industry to portray real life events and make them timeless is completed through Murnau’s quote during the time he is filming a real life vampire killing people, only for a good shot. “Time will no longer be a dark spot on our lungs. They will no longer say ‘you had to have been there’, because the fact is, Albin, we were. An example of this is the scene where Count Orlak asked for make-up before his scene, this is ironic because Orlak wants make-up to increase the illusion that he is a vampire to the audience when he actually is a vampire. The parallel between the film world and the vampire world is portrayed through various quotes which foreshadow and depict how the film industry is similar to a vampire. Greta says, when describing the film industry to the theatre acting life “the audience gives me life! This thing *pointing at camera* takes it away from me. This foreshadows how in the end scene she is killed by count Orlak as a sacrifice for a perfect scene, in the film industry. The camera taking the life away from her parallels a vampire sucking the blood from her. The parallel between the film world and the vampire world is practiced when the timelessness of film gives immortality in Shadow of a Vampire and Dracula representing immortality in the book Dracula. The timelessness of film is shown in the scene in which Murnau promises count Orlak “everlasting life” in exchange for playing the part in the movie.
Everlasting life is through filming, it is always shown in Christianity as a reward but this time it is promised through the medium of filming. This scene relates back to the strong religious views found in the time setting in Dracula and is a great example of the transformation techniques used in Shadow of a Vampire. The end scene of the Shadow of a Vampire where Murnau puts morphine into Greta’s system to put her into a dreamy state mirrors the bite of Dracula in the original book.
This is another example that the dominant character is in-fact the director and not the vampire. This is another example of the parallel between the characters and situations in the vampire and film world. All these factors have contributed to the transformation nature of Shadow of a Vampire in combining the three texts. The conjunction of themes of the gothic and the use of pastiche to imitate, the parallel between the film and vampire world while still maintaining a post-modern view are easily displayed in the film Shadow of a Vampire.
Arguments * Parallel between Film and Vampire world * Pastiche to imitate a film, filming a story based on a book. The constant attempt to portray real life events * Gothic mode used in all three texts, in Dracula to represent Christian values and science as good and evil and in Shadow of a Vampire this is contradicted in the setting of the text where excessive drug use and sex is acted on frequently