Monday, January 04, 2010

Honourable Mention: Murnau the Vampire


Some time ago I posted a link to a free album by Theatre des Vampires that was inspired by F W Murnau and his masterpiece Nosferatu.

reaching the castleThe album was also the soundtrack to a short animation entitled Murnau the Vampire, dated 2007 and directed by Oscar Alcardo and is available to view on the project’s homepage. The film itself is dialogue free and the animation is in a wonderfully stylised 3D. It begins with a coach. A vampire looks upon it and a flock of bats fly towards the castle. The passenger enters the vampire’s lair.

Count MurnauBack in civilisation, if you like, a young clerk of a real estate firm is given the task of taking papers to one Count Murnau. He leaves his wife to travel to the Count’s castle. Clearly he is Hutter and she is Ellen – from Nosferatu – and we have already moved away from Nosferatu. Who was the original passenger? We do not know for certain – perhaps just another poor clerk.

vampire bridesOther differences emerge. There is a scene with three vampire brides, something completely missing in Nosferatu. They stand at the end of the bed and then vanish and rise through the mattress and this owes all to the 1992 Dracula. Clearly Alcardo is taking his inspiration from several sources, putting in motifs that the modern viewer will recognise, as well as some more original aspects. One of the more original ideas is that the crates of earth are filled by the innkeeper that Hutter met on his journey – making the Count’s network insiduous. More recognisable is a brilliantly animated (due to the cloak) wall crawl.

the world turns redThe film itself is shot, up to this point, in a very stark black and white with greys. However once the Count travels (to Germany) by ship and arrives in the town then a red seeps into the animation and the eyes of those controlled by the vampire are equally as red. This includes Ellen, as Hutter discovers when he finally gets home.

wonderful flying animationThe film moves utterly away from Nosferatu at this point as Hutter gains the help of a vampire hunter (Van Helsing). They chase the Count as he flies through the night and, with the animation of the cloak, this proves to be as strong and beautiful a scene as that of the earlier wall crawl. Eventually they track the Count to a spacious building that seemed Cathedral like but lacking the religious paraphernalia.

the vampire as an octopodWhen Van Helsing confronts Count Murnau with a cross he grows in size and develops tentacles. I was immediately reminded of octopi as I saw this, as well as having a feeling of Lovecraft. The Octopi probably came to mind due to the shapes described in Colin Wilson’s the Space Vampires - did this reference Wilson’s book directly? I don’t honestly know but it certainly came flooding into my mind.

This is a gorgeous piece of animation and being dialogue free it is very open to interpretation. I recommend going over to the webpage and having a watch. At the time this article was written I could find no imdb page.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

Thanks for this Andy, I am about to check it out ^V^

I am a big fan of Theatres Des Vampires, I have a few of their old albums, but my favourite is Anima Noir when Sonya Scarlet took over as singer.

I didn't know about this Murnau album though so I am going to check it out at the link as well :D

Zahir Blue said...

After watching it, methinks the first visitor is almost certainly "Hutter's" employer.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Guys

Zahir, I thought that too at first, but isn't he still imprisoned once 'Hutter' gets there? (or perhaps that is someone else?)

JaredMithrandir said...

The Animation style makes me think of Paper Mario in many ways.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

i have to admit not being familiar with that Jared