"Vampyr"(1932) is Theodor Dreyer's (a Danish director) first talkie film based loosely on the book "Camilla"(1872) by Sheridan Le Fanu. Fanu's novel is notable for introducing females into the Vampire genre. The movie, though in sound, is still largely a silent picture with little actual talking and features the haunting music of Wolgang Zeller. This particular film was restored using French and German prints. There are some sequences, or images, missing from the final film, such as the one on the front cover of the Criterion box, which is part a pan shot that was later cut.
"Vampyr" is a very atmospheric and expressionistic film that follows more the logic of dreams than reality. Shadows dance on walls, or pass on the grass, like phantoms, detached from anything real. Ghostly images of Allan Gray drift off from his sitting body walking around the grounds and the building's interiors. It has been said that the film is somewhat autobiographical and reflected Dreyer's own drifting into insanity. Soon after making this film Dreyer had a mental collapse and entered himself into a sanitarium for rehabilitation. Dreyer wasn't to make another film until eleven years later in 1943, when he made "Day of Wrath".
This Criterion set is quite marvelous. It has a 214 page book with the Fanu's sotry "Camilla", the screenplay by Theodor and Christen Jul, another booklet with critical essays by Mark Le Fanu, Kim Newman, and Koerber, and a 1964 interview with Nicolas de Gunzburg. There are two discs. On Disc One is the original German version with a HD digital transfer from the 1998 restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna with English subtitles and audio commentary by scholar Tony Rayns. On disc Two there is a documentary by Jorgen Roos chronicling Dreyer's career, a visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer's influences in creating "Vampyr", as well as a radio broadcast from 1958 with Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking. "Vampyr" was only the third vampire film ever made and the second using sound,
preceeded only by Murnau's silent film, "Nosferatu"(1922) and Tod Browning's "Dracula"(1931).