Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's Deep Mythos

There are two archtypal questions that have come to define Western culture in the past 200 or so years:

- Can a man (or woman) intentionally use science to bring the dead back to life?

- Can a man (or woman) survive death and "come back" for an eternal life?

The first question stems from the novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley in 1818. The second comes from the novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897.

Bookending the 19th Century, Shelley and Stoker gave us stories that have reverberated in our imaginations, echoing ancient themes about the boundaries of human innovation and of life itself...and what comes after.

Is it any wonder then that each new generation of filmmakers is drawn to these stories which are rooted in our psyche?

Recently, my son Kevin, a budding filmmaker, asked me what I thought of Branagh's version of Frankenstein with Robert DeNiro as the Monster. While I did not care for the casting choice for the Creature, I did admire director Branagh's over-the-top vision for the film.

Today, I read that film director Danny (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) Boyle is mounting a stage production of Frankenstein, starring Jonny Lee Miller, in the UK.

And as for Dracula, I love what Francis Ford Coppola did with Stoker's tale, casting a highly unlikely Gary Oldman as the Count, but delivering the most ripe and lavish Dracula ever.

Next to zombies, vampires are as popular in film as ever. The Twilight books became successful films. And Italian filmmaker Dario Argento plans a 3D version of Dracula soon.

Should we just put a stake in these stories and put out a moratorium on any more film versions? In my view, absolutely not. These stories reflect questions that go very deep into our wiring. We must explore them. We must ask...and follow where the questions lead us.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Wednesday February 23, 2011.

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