This is part of the plot of Dracula Untold, but of course his desire to feast on human flesh is not at all insatiable, and in fact it sort of comes and goes at the screenwriters' whims. But what got me thinking is the way that the movie thinks of the self. Vlad is able to transform into a kind of cloud of bats. He leaves his human, Vlad-form behind when he wants to move quickly, and then he can fly. You can actually sort of see this a little in the poster. He doesn't become one bat, he becomes a colony of bats. So: how does a colony of bats desire? What does it mean for a cloud of bats to want something, to hunger? This is an important Deleuzean question. Vlad the Impaler – not a singular being but rather a wolfpack, a machine, a colony of bats – desires to feast on flesh. What is desire, then, if it is divided among the pack, shared among the multiple pieces that are Vlad?
Obviously, Dracula Untold does not actually ask this question, but I did while I was watching.
The ideological project of this kind of narrative is made all the more obvious in a film like Dracula Untold. The film somehow consistently reminds us that this is a story of Vlad the Impaler, the man who took pleasure in torturing his victims, who was known for utilizing extraordinary torture methods such as – stop me if you've heard this one – inserting a spear through a man's body without damaging any vital organs so that he isn't killed but will live for three days in pain. But Vlad the Impaler is a good guy, because he is violent only because there is a power much much worse who doesn't love kids but wants to turn them into child soldiers.
|Eyeliner makes all British actors look vaguely "oriental"|
At the end of Dracula Untold, the son, this lone child, is taken away by a faux-Christian monk wielding a crucifix, and what we see as the film ends is something totally different from what we've been watching for the last ninety minutes. Dracula Untold jumps into 2014. It's been five hundred years, and Dracula is hanging out in some wealthy, overcast, English-speaking metropolis. The son he loved has been forgotten completely (dying in the middle ages, presumably). Instead, he seduces a woman by quoting some very old poetry, and he kisses her hand and calls her "my lady". Then Charles Dance, drumming his in-need-of-a-manicure fingernails on a table in an outdoor café, gets up, walks toward the camera, buttons his suit, and says to us Let the games begin. This is actually just bad storytelling: what these "games" are is not clear, but the audience is simply supposed to leave thinking about what fun it would be to have all of the power, sex appeal, and mystery that come with being a vampire.
|Au revoir, l'enfant|