We can trace its existence to Ancient Egypt, or even before. Some have found it in more or less apocryphal versions of the Bible, and others have spent half their lives chasing their tracks in the folk legends of the five continents. The origins are always uncertain; Births not so much. Dracula’s was produced in 1897, with the publication of the famous novel by Bram Stoker, which changed everything. Since then, vampires have only confirmed their immortality, roaming freely for popular culture in all its formats and dodging garlic, crucifixes, wooden stakes and other night hazards. It happens every year: a barrage of books, movies, series and various creations chew and regurgitate the myth, covering it with new and tasty meanings … It is what it has to live on the blood of others: that you are condemned to keep part of your victims
The new exhibition of
, «Vampires. The evolution of the myth », organized jointly with La Cinémathèque française, confirms what has been said with a tour of 362 works in which we see all the mutations that the bug has suffered throughout history: monster, refined aristocrat, star of Rock, teenage icon, being parodic or comic character, among many other costumes. Everything, of course, accompanied by the readings and elucubrations (political, cultural, social) that artists and critics have made of the matter. In short, a perfect alibi to review the different edges and drifts of the character.
Nobody escapes the obvious erotic wink of sucking the blood of a neck, if possible, feminine. The vampire myth is marked by sexual drive from its origins. In Stoker’s time, as the novelist Ricardo Menéndez Salmón indicates, this meant “the demolition of the ethics of the Victorian era.” In this novel, passion is raw, out of focus, primary. Then, the character was stylized and becoming a kind of seducer, yes, always dominant. This is what we see in the Hammer movies, where the vampire is loaded by a sexapil who, contrary to the myth, has not aged very well. Or in the 1992 version of Coppola, in which he becomes a romantic (the last one?).
The trail goes on and on and reaches this century. In the successful and adolescent saga “Twilight” the whole vampire story revolves around the “hunt” of the woman, a passive character, with very little decision power. «Vampires are not complacent with women. They are macho stories, ”emphasizes the writer Carmen Posadas, who does not understand her success among the female gender. And he adds a little known clue: the “Twilight” scheme is then repeated by E. L. James in the millionaire trilogy of “Fifty Shades of Gray”, only with less sharp fangs, but more adults. «There is nothing good about women about their success. Feminists give it a benign interpretation, saying that erotic fantasies have nothing to do with reality. I’m not so sure », ditch.
Over the years the vampires began to refine themselves: they stopped being monsters to become elegant creatures, with a nostalgic and laconic point, inevitable because of their immortality. Something like Dorian Gray. “The vampire is less indigestible than the zombie (another form of the dead-alive) and also tries to maintain a pseudo-romantic elegance that perhaps limits the ultra-bearded nonsense of hipsterism,” says art critic Fernando Castro Flórez. Perhaps one of the greatest expressions of this phenomenon can be found in the movie «Only Lovers Survive» (2013), by Jim Jarmusch, in which vampires are melancholic beings with an exquisite taste for literature, music and fashion , who have also had the privilege of meeting the great geniuses of humanity.
There is even one more twist: turning them into rock stars, which is what the playwright Ramón Paso has done in the recent «Dracula. Unauthorized biography ». «Vampires could camouflage themselves in the world of rock. There their eccentricities and habits would go unnoticed. Mick Jagger could be a vampire and would not surprise anyone, ”he says. In addition, they have a certain (and strange) parallel: «The immortality of the stars, by Elvis or Michael Jackson, is very similar to that of the vampire. They need public worship, they need blood; they are two forms of sacrifice ».
The vampire works today as the perfect metaphor for the abuse of power, political or economic. He is the one who steals life and, instead of punishment, receives immortality, eternal youth. “Is not industrialization marked by the bloodsucker, the exploiter, the shadowless subject?” Asks Castro Flórez. «Today we have returned to the beginning. They represent the abuse of power, as before: that’s why the vampire was a nobleman, ”Apostille Paso. But not only that: the art of vampirizing is more universal, it is within reach of the wasps. This is the case in the great winner of the Oscars 2020, «Parasites», where, without the intervention of the supernatural, a poor family takes advantage of the resources of another who lives in a casoplon. «It’s a vampire story and according to what points, vampires look like one or the other. There is always the question of who vampires who, ”says the“ almighty ”Arturo González-Campos.
And beyond wealth and survival, vampires also serve as an icon of the most absolute freedom: they are above good and evil, they give themselves entirely to desire and enjoy the luxury of living ignoring all conventions. “He is the last anarchist: without God, without homeland or patron, without law,” says Menéndez Salmón.
There is no doubt: vampires have exceeded the limits of cinema and literature to conquer other formats. They are already an inseparable part of pop culture, and we see them in role-playing games, video games or comics. Here they arrived, according to González-Campos, at a time of some exhaustion of the figure of the superhero, in which the creators sought inspiration in worlds such as that of Frankestein or Dracula. «In the comic, vampirism is treated in an almost playful way. These vampires began as a reflection of Stoker’s and ended up resembling those of “Interview with the vampire,” »he says. With this spirit were created “Blade” or “Morbius”, which were also taken to the cinema. Or even «Buffy, Vampire Slayer», who was already born in the audiovisual medium.
The vampire’s immortality is the temptation of man, his desire. “It has always been like this. The idea is to defeat death, escape the fatal destiny we all have. It happens with vampires, with Faust and with Don Juan. The vampire terrifies us and attracts us, ”says philosopher Fernando Savater. But eternal youth is a poisoned gift, and demands a high price: relying on blood, living at night, giving up mirrors …
This immortality, moreover, is twofold, for Dracula has not died either inside or outside the paper. His legacy seems eternal, at least until proven otherwise. Of course, this also has its reverse. “We have lost the original Dracula because the novel has not been read and many by-products have been seen without interest. I guess that is one of the tolls that all myth must pay. If you have to recover Dracula, you have to recover it entirely, because what has happened to the bourgeois and pop culture is practically empty of content: they are silly children, and Dracula has nothing like that, ”laments the writer José C. Vales. .