VAMPYR (1932) B/W 83m dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer
w/Julian West, Henriette Gerard, Jan Hieronimoko, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz, Albert Bras, N. Babanini, Jane Mora
Continuously eerie and unsettling, VAMPYR portrays vampirism as a plague, almost a sickness of the soul. An outsider (West) visits a fear-ridden community and fights the dominance of a local evil doctor. A chilling, impeccably photographed mood piece, this was Danish director Dreyer's (THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC) first sound film.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "Produced independently by Dreyer's own company with the financial assistance of a film enthusiast, Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg, Vampyr was shot outside the studios in real settings in France (an inn, a chateau, an unused factory) and with only two professional actors, Maurice Schutz and Sybille Schmitz (a young disciple of Max Reinhardt). The rest of the cast was drawn from friends and acquaintances selected for their resemblance to the characters. Dreyer described his film during its production to Ebe Neergard: 'Imagine that we are sitting in a very ordinary room. Suddenly we are told that there is a corpse behind the door. Instantly, the room we are sitting in is completely altered. Everything in it has taken on another look. The light, the atmosphere have changed, though they are physically the same. This is because we have changed and the objects are as we conceive them. This is the effect I wanted to produce in Vampyr.'
"Elliptical in style, hauntingly sinister in atmosphere, and with a spare use of dialogue, Vampyr is, as Lotte Eisner wrote, 'a worthy successor to Murnau's Nosferatu .... It is bathed in an atmosphere whose magic only the cinema could express; it would be impossible for the theater to give shapes the characteristic fuzziness of the world of nightmares.' The most famous sequence shows a burial as seen through the eyes of a corpse, David Gray, with the camera taking David's place in the coffin, watching the old woman peer through the glass, then glimpsing treetops, the sky, and corners of buildings as the coffin is carried to the cemetery."