Friday, July 23, 2010

Honourable Mentions: Bara no Konrei

Whilst the 2001 Hiroyuki Muto directed Bara no Konrei or Bridal of Rose is a full length vampire movie I have decided that it is fairer to look at it as an honourable mention rather than a review.

The film was a vehicle for the visual kei group Malice Mizer and is essentially a silent movie, with title cards in Japanese and (unfortunately literally translated) English. Members of the band played roles within the film and the bands pomp driven pseudo-classical gothic rock music provided the majestic soundtrack.

Terumi Nagayoshi as Cecil
The film is a visual treat, showing a certain archaic view of what England looked like but, nonetheless, resplendent in its imagery. Story wise we find that the opening sequence is actually a moment towards the end of the film with the vampiric victim Cecil (Terumi Nagayoshi) tied to a bed, a cross over her chest, as a group of men stand waiting for the vampire interloper. The scene actually changes somewhat in the main film.

Yu-Ki as the Earl of Dracula
Beyond this the story is actually a retelling of Dracula, now the Earl of Dracula (Yu-ki), that borrows heavily from both the 1992 Dracula and, I felt, Nosferatu. Some of the Dracula moments were easy to spot, such as Dracula and Cecil meeting on the street, a moment evoking Gary Oldman – even if Cecil's reaction were different to that of Mina in the earlier film. The Nosferatu aspect was more an underlying feel – certainly a shadow play moment owed as much to the 1992 Dracula as it did Nosferatu.

dance with the dead
There are also moments that brought Interview with the Vampire to mind. Certainly the Elegant Gothic Aristocrat costuming style brings Neil Jordan’s opus to mind but a moment where a Byronic Vampire (Közi) dances with the corpse of a victim brought a similar moment with Lestat dancing with Claudia’s dead mother to mind, despite her death being from plague. There is a moment the almost recreates the Théatre des Vampires scenes from Interview.

The story also deviates heavily from Stoker (and other filmic versions) by having a vampiric rivalry. Dracula’s invasion of England is resented by the Byronic vampire already is situ whilst his vampire sister, regularly disguised as a nun (Mana), is a devotee of the Earl. As I have mentioned the female victim is Cecil (taking the role of both Lucy and Mina into one character) and her fiancé is Klaha (Klaha).

Jesus wept.
Amongst the imagery presented is a lot of religious iconography though its use as a vampire deterrent seems limited. The vampirised Cecil is tied and has the cross on her chest but, when Dracula uses mojo to free her bonds, she simply removes the cross by hand. We see a cross wielded by a priest dissolve, whilst the nun’s cross transmutes the Christ figure into a bat. We see a stone crucifix weeping blood.

Klaha as Klaha
If I am going to be honest the whole thing is just a little over long but, should you like Malice Mizer (this was in their later, darker phase when Klaha was the lead vocalist) and you like your imagery thick and gothic it is worth tracking down – it is discontinued but you might find a copy of the disc with some searching.

The imdb page is here.


Christine said...

This actually sounds interesting. Googling, googling...

Gabriel said...

I found this while revelling deep in my Visual Kei fascination, though I admit it was limited to Youtube, and at the time I couldn't find a copy.

I loved this, and yes it was over the top, but that is Mana in essence and I love all the EGL/GL fashion and there is something about Visual Kei and the way Japanese do vampires that I find superior to the Western World, in both movies and anime. I can't put my finger on it, perhaps it's their chisselled looks or Asian litheness/grace, but Mana, Gackt and Blood and so forth are perennial Goth Rock bands for me, and the mesh of Japanese and European/Christian Culture is a great mix as its presented here.

In forming Moi Dix Mois - Mana's latest project, you can see even with this the fascination of French renaissance fashion, which is why I think the Interview with The Vampire look is so prevalent, but Renaissance seemed to be the main area of influence with these bands, with only some embracing Victorian such as Mana.

Thanks for the review, I'll now find a concentrated effort to find the copy. I assume you've got the album used in this movie?

I plan on watching it again this weekend.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

There is a cross over in the styles shown in this with some of the animes and that Japanese/European mix does work visually very well indeed.

Christine said...

I am just
watching it in YT. Gloriously showing-off Gothic style with LOT of gorgeous red Roses!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Christine: glad your enjoying it.

Gabe: forgot to say, yes I do have the album