Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Dracula" Season 1 Episode 16

The episode "Dracula" first aired on June 8, 1977 . It was direct by H.G. Stark and written and produced by Jeremy Brink.

Dracula... well I'm a bit skeptical of this one. Will this be an investigation of Vlad the Impaler and how cruel he was, or will it be about vampires?

I like the start. The music is creepy and we are looking at an old art gallery of the bizarre and curious where a portrait hangs of Vlad the Impaler. This gallery is located in Ambras Castle near Innsbruck, Austria. It feels like they are going the historical route, so I'm interested.

(Vlad the Impaler)
Now Nimoy gets into the the pop culture version of Dracula. "Audiences have come to know Dracula well. They've seen him portrayed on the screen for more than 50 years. There's the black cape. The jutting canine teeth. The demonic eyes and the nocturnal lust for blood. But what fo the truth behind the legend?" Nimoy connects us well. He takes us to Romania and tells us that the land has many myths and legends. He mentions a yearly pagan ritual in August to celebrate friendship and love. We are introduced to two men who have climbed the mountain in Romania and the ancient superstitions connected to the mountain.

Legends tell of a 15th century nobleman named "Voodoo(?)" who raised from the dead by a witch. He was turned to stone and locals believe the stone megolith on the mountain is him. Nimoy discusses how hard is to separate fact from fiction when fear is involved. We learn briefly of the book by Bram Stoker, Dracula. Few seem to know it was based on a real person. So Nimoy takes us to Transylvania, located within Romania.

Nimoy tells us how Stoker was influenced by his childhood to write the book. Stoker knew of the legends and myths in Romania. The film Nosferatu, which is a 1920's silent film, comes closest to the story of the book. I would agree, that film is one of my favorites and very creepy!

Nimoy explains how Stoker described a figure who was more dead than alive. A true monster with super human strength. Nimoy discusses an issue I have often wondered about. Why the connection to bats and vampires since the vampire bat is only found in South America? But for the people of Romania, the only Dracula they know is connection to Vlad the Impaler. We next meet a Romainian tourism official who takes us to an island near Bucharest where the body of Vlad was buried. His decapitated body was planted in an unmarked grave. Vlad was known as favoring slow torture for any of those who did agree with his rule. But the truth about Vlad is still somewhat in doubt. It's implied that his enemies may have spread propaganda about him. Nimoy tells us about some of the history of Transylvania region. In many ways this rural area is little changed since the Middle Ages. We are taken to a house where Vlad's son known as "Dracula" or "Son of the Dragon" was born.

His image was a Christian crusader. Over time, "Dragon" would increasingly be interpreted as "Devil". The centuries old monasteries in the region were founded at the time of Dracula. The Eastern Orthodox Church was Dracula's faith, and made for clear and simple teachings. By punishing evil, salvation could be had. Punishing with brutality and blood thirst might be ok. And so we have a history listen on the reign of Dracula. His choice for punishment, was a slow impalement on a spike. He impaled thousands of Turks and left them there to scare away possible invaders. He was betrayed by his brother, but eventually restored to the crown. In 1476, he Dracula was killed in battle.

"If some light has been shed on the truth during this search for Dracula, it doesn't mean that belief in vampires will be dispelled. Bram Stoker's Dracula will always persist in our minds because in him we have found the perfect symbol for unrepetant evil."

This was a good episode. I was worried there would be time spent on people acting strange and maybe they are vampires or something. Instead it was mostly a historical examination of Vlad the Impaler in an attempt to understand where the idea of Dracula the monster may have come from. This may have been the least controversial of any episode so far. Nimoy almost rejects any connection be tween Vlad and Bram Stoker's monster. It was a bit creepy in places, and the history was good. I enjoyed this episode.

You can watch this episode "Dracula" below.

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