Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The One To Wait For

Here's something to really get excited about. Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (or The Vampyr) will be getting the royal Criterion treatment in a two-disc edition, to be released on July 22. My chin is dripping already just thinking about the goodies in store.

This is the film that I've heard and read so much about. Many, many years ago, when I was still in school, I read about it in a film book at a public library, which had these faded stills from the movie that were appropriately archaic-looking, which added some degree of intrigue. I'd by then read J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, with its shocking final scene of a vampire floating in a casket full of blood. Dreyer's film was reportedly inspired by Le Fanu's novella. It is also a film that is very much steeped in the avant-garde. There's a scene where a policeman's shadow walks away from him. It isn't explained; it just happens. This is a film of incredible mood and atmosphere, a fever dream of image and sounds.

I've been searching high and low for the film ever since. I didn't even know there had been a previous edition of it on DVD. But since Criterion is giving us the motherlode soon, I'll wait another couple of months for it.

The goodies on the Criterion double-disc edition includes:

New restored high-definition digital transfer of the 1998 film restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna

Optional all-new English-text version of the film

Audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns

Carl Th. Dreyer (1966) a documentary by Jorgen Roos chronicling Dreyer's career

Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer's influences in creating Vampyr

A radio broadcast of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman

Martin Koerber on the restoration and an archival interview with producer and star Nicolas de Gunzburg as well as a book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul's original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu 1871 story Carmilla a source for the film

Bloody brilliant. For a collector of vampire films like me, this is a wet dream come true. It hasn't been this good since I finally got Murnau's Nosferatu on DVD some years ago.

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