The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Retelling the Vlad Dracula epic

Earlier I argued for Vlad the Impaler as one of history's tragic heroes. Bram Stoker was mentioned; and if I hadn't made it clear, I approve of Stoker's choice to make him a gothic antihero. Vlad had few friends in life and, if he had Done Something Wrong and if the fate of antiheroes is to be locked out of both heaven and hell, then his fate as an undead spirit damned to his own castle seems a natural one.

I dispute the haemophagy, but I'll get to that later. What I am even less certain of, is why Western artists tend to blame the Church for his posthumous state. Granted, Vlad in life acted with a savagery that would not pass muster under normal Christian conditions. But I have not found evidence that the Orthodox or Catholic Churches, ministering to Wallachians under fifteenth-century Balkan conditions, had complained about what Vlad did.

Yet in the Keanu Reeves "Bram Stoker's Dracula" from way back, and in Castlevania now, the theme is always how Judgey and Ignorant is Duh Churrrch. Do these bigots even know what "Christianity" meant in Wallachia at the time?

It is a disservice to the Church, to Vlad, and to history to make Duh Churrrch the reason for Vlad's downfall, if he is even to have a downfall. Vlad didn't run up against Duh Churrrch's arrogance. Vlad didn't even run up against simple peasant ignorance; if anything the Wallachian peasantry loved this guy, for reining in their blood-sucking boyars. (They still do, I hear.) Vlad's foil was the Turk, foe to the Church as much as to Wallachia. Vlad's nemesis was the temporal enemies he'd made along the way. And if Vlad had a final judge, it was God Himself.

Given all that, the only movie to do Vlad right that I've yet seen is Dracula Untold. (I exclude attempts at actual history like Hudson Street's graphic novel.)


posted by Zimri on 09:11 | link | 0 comments

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