Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Using the Vampire to Mirror Societies Fears : Introduction

The purpose of this dissertation is to tackle issues surrounding how notions of the vampire and vampire mythology are treated by the filmmakers that manipulate them, and put them in front of an audience on the screen. I will look at issues that arise from the vampire being present within a text using four key films, Bram Stokers Dracula (Ford Coppola, US, 1993), The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, US, 1987) Blade (Norrington, US, 1998) and Cyber City Oedo 808: The Vampire Case (Kawajiri, Japan, 1990). I will track the progress of what the vampire is seen to represent to different audiences, and what fears are both being brought to the front of public consciousness and also what fears in society are being reflected by the vampire.

I will explore the vampire myth and its representation within three chapters. First of all I will look at  Dracula. I will show the character is presented to us as a lone, tragic vampire figure. I will explore issues raised by a number of theorists such as Ken Gelder whose argument surrounding Dracula enforces the idea of a tragic, Romantic character. Also I will look at how the narrative of  Dracula can be seen to have similarities with Bordwell and Thomson’s idea of a classic Hollywood romance narrative and how the audience can use this definition in order to side with the character of Dracula instead of the supposed band of heroes present in the text.

With other issues surrounding the film I will look at and consider the relevance of Vera Dika’s notion that we can read the text as a metaphorical representation of Disease;  and also James Twitchell’s argument surrounding ideas of the film presenting an attack on the concepts of Christianity. I will consider both these arguments and position them in terms of what I believe the primary concern of the text is and how these ideas relate to it.

In the second chapter using the film The Lost Boys I will be looking at ideas the arise from the change of the vampire character from a lone figure into a gang along with a change in style from gothic surroundings and themes to a more commercial and contemporary surrounding, and how this changes our perception of the vampire. Also, I will explore issues which arise surrounding ideas of sexuality and how and what message the film is putting across is reflected in the dominant ideology of society in eighty’s culture, including how relevant Gramsci’s theory of hegemony is to this concept.

Other theories I will look at include Nicola Nixon’s ideas, which situate the film again, like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in realms of representing disease. I will discuss this and how plausible these ideas are in relation to the text.  Rob Latham’s theories concerning ideas surrounding the consumption of youth through product are also explored. These along with my own concept that it is possible to read the film in terms of representing the idea of taking drugs will be used to see how far the vampires in this film differ from the classic Dracula figure and what they are now used to present to us.

For the final chapter using the films Blade and Cyber City Oedo 808:The Vampire Case, I will consider how the influence of science and its advancement has come to bare on how the vampire is presented to us. With reference to John J. Jordan’s discussion of the film and using my own observations I will show the different ways that the two films set up the idea of the vampire and science as being directly in opposition with one another. I intend to show that while the films set this opposition up, both the vampire and also science and progressing technology can be seen as being on the side of either good or evil depending on how they are presented to the audience.

In considering how both science and vampires are placed together I will look at the notions of the vampire as a disease that must be cured by science. In doing so I will show how the vampire is completely marginalized by science and turned into something outdated and something that is no longer believable whose acts relieve fears around the idea of advancing technology. Furthermore, I will show how the idea of the vampire as disease can be reversed so that it is the idea of technology that becomes the representation for disease, causing fear surrounding science rather than enforcing it as something that is necessary for the survival of humanity.

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