The impossibility of vision: vampirism, formlessness and horror in Vampyr

Alison Peirse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This article argues that the shifting bodily borders of male protagonist, David Gray, and female vampire, Marguerite Chopin, evoke horror in Vampyr (Dreyer, 1932). Situating the film within the 'loose, ambiguous narratives' of European art cinema, it is suggested that the film's central trope is the confounding of spectator's ability to make sense of the events taking place within the text. Gray's bodily borders vacillate throughout the film, moving between active and passive and alive and dead, evoking formlessness and uncertainty. Vampyr even includes an uncanny moment in which Gray looks upon his own dead body laid out in a coffin. Even when Gray is active, the mesh screens, closed windows and locked doors distance him from his object of pursuit and undermine his gaze. Through the formless female vampire, oblique narrative and form and white mise-en-scene, Vampyr reveals the impossibility of vision and the limitations of the spectatorial gaze.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-170
    JournalStudies in European Cinema
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'The impossibility of vision: vampirism, formlessness and horror in Vampyr'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this