From Dracula to Blade to Twilight: the evolution of the vampire

Blade is the 1998 film directed by Stephen Norrington and represents the first chapter of a film trilogy. The film, which airs this evening at 20.59 on 20 Mediaset, is inspired by the character of the comic series of the same name. Marvel.

Blade, the plot

In 1967, in a dark and violent metropolis, a pregnant woman is attacked by a vampire, who bites her to feed on her blood. The traumatic event causes a premature birth in the woman which kills her; the child, on the other hand, manages to survive and Blade (Wesley Snipes), thirty years after these events, he works as a vampire hunter, a job that he manages to exercise with some success thanks to the fact that he possesses strength and skills similar to those of vampires. For this, over the years, he has earned the nickname Diurno. And it is with this authority that Blade enters a Detroit vampire den, where he makes a carnage. However, due to the imminent arrival of the police – unaware of the existence of supernatural creatures in the city’s lattice – Blade is forced to leave a vampire alive. The latter is taken to the hospital where he kills some of the medical staff and feeds on the amateur Karen, before fleeing. Blade takes the woman to a safe place where he puts her in the care of his friend Abraham (Kris Kristofferson), the man who trained him to become a threat to the undead. Meanwhile, in the shadows, the vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) begins planning a war between humans and vampires.

The thousand faces of the vampire

The cinema is teeming with films inhabited by undead, immortal creatures that feed on human blood to preserve an immortality based on murder. Since the dawn of oral stories first and then of literature, the vampire he became a creature capable of captivating the public. On the one hand because it represents the defeat of death, a great fear internalized by human beings, and partly because immortality and eternity open up to boundless imaginations, which allow those who “suffer” to perceive something that escapes understanding. human and to accept what is not and will never be possible. At the same time, however, the vampire – especially that of the origins – is also a symbol of a primitive evil, an antecedent of that homo homini lupus which symbolizes a humanity always ready to devour itself, self-destructive, which feeds on itself to increase its power. It is no coincidence, in this sense, that one of the first major vampire films is the Nosferatu from Murnau, an unauthorized transposition of Bram Stoker’s literary work: the film, a symbol of German expressionism, seems to place the vampire in an almost abstract sphere, in a sort of allegory of totalitarianism, where there is only surrender and annihilation. In telling the story of the vampire it is actually told of a constant abuse of power, of an unfair condition where victim and executioner cannot fight on equal terms.

In order to see a version closer to the Dracula by Bram Stoker we will have to wait until 1931, when the director Tod Browning brings to the big screen Bela Lugosi as the terrible Transylvanian vampire. In this first phase, vampires always appear as cruel, evil, bloodthirsty creatures. The fascination they emanate is not a positive aspect, but the weapon they use to attract the victims they feed on to themselves. The so-called “bloodsuckers” are therefore nothing more than predators, thus perpetrating a cliché that actually already existed in the film La vampira – A fool there was, of 1915, where the undead protagonist was a kind of femme fatale to which the literal label of man-eater is approached. To change this status quo of the figure of the vampire we have to wait until the 90s of the twentieth century, when two blockbuster films arrive on the big screen that change the way we perceive the vampire in the cinema. Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola e Interview with the vampire from Neil Jordan are the two films that lead to the romanticization of the vampire.

In the first case, Count Dracula (played by Gary Oldman), while maintaining his black and evil soul, is somehow invested with a justification for his horrendous acts and his path of cruelty and murder turns into a poignant love story in which the happy ending is not contemplated. Interview with the vampire, on the other hand, brings the idea of ​​a vampire closer to that of a romantic and decadent hero: the leading role is given to Brad Pitt who plays the vampire Louis, a New Orleans man who can’t accept his destiny as an undead, obsessed with a moral dilemma that prompts him to question the ethics of having to kill to survive. The vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise), who is vain and cruel, who regards humans as a second-rate race and therefore easy to crush. With Interview with the vampire, therefore, the two poles of the vampire narrative meet: the romantic soul and the cruel one. Over the years, then, the romanticization of the vampire has reached exaggerated levels with the arrival of Twilight, the Stephenie Meyer saga.

Edward Cullen, the protagonist of the series, is a creature that can only be associated with vampires because it needs blood to feed itself. But he is a “vegetarian” vampire, who feeds only on animals, and who spends his time pining for love for the protagonist. The love story is adolescent and the animal side, instinctive and dark that every self-respecting vampire should carry inside their tormented soul is missing.

Hand in hand with the evolution of the romantic vampire, films also arrive at the cinema that place the vampire at the center of a more action narrative. It is an example of this Bladeof course, but also I’m legend, where the vampire gene comes from a virus and the entire existence of the undead is researched in scientific fields. The mixture between action and romanticism then finds its maximum exponent in the television series Buffy – The Vampire Slayer, become a cult, in which vampires go from being the villains to be killed to the romantic heroes to be conquered. All these are just a few examples to demonstrate the continuous evolution of the genre and the figure of the vampire, which is constantly changing and is always ready to change its skin: a bit like the vampires of Taika Waititi in the movie What we do in the shadows – Vampire life, released in 2014 and also became a television series.

From Dracula to Blade to Twilight: the evolution of the vampire