Constance July 1st, 2006
“It’s a seductive story: a mysterious foreigner, a beautiful young woman, blood and passion.” No wonder Lucy went pole dancingÂ after Dracula jabbed her. Since this is also a ballet, in which the characters are played by beautiful faces and bodies,Â this is a very differentÂ vampiric ‘eastern’ threat than the hideously non-romantic dark force of Nosferatu, the cinematic model, who brings the Black Death to Europe.
Though the immigration theme is the weakest part of Virgin’s Diary it still is of interest in the concluding scenes.
“Stealing the substance of the west,” says the title card as Dracula steals MinaÂ (danced by CindyMarie Small)Â away from the convent through a mysterious crack in the wall that leads to his castle realm.
Dracula’s coffin is stuffed with glowing green cash.Â “Money stolen from England!” the title card informs us.
Immigrants steal our heart’s blood andÂ our money, which in aggressive capitalist cultures, are interchangeable.Â Stab Count Dracula, as Van Helsing does in the Diary and cold gold coins burst out of him, not hot blood.Â The money scenes are the most colored of this mostly black and white film â€“ green for money, gold for coins, red, of course, for the blood.Â Stoker’s novel is permeated with references to cash and capital and the value of things.
The Outsider, the immigrant, also steals our women, our rightful possessions, and changes our women into the Other.Â They lure our women with the promises of what we do not have â€“more hair, more exciting love-making (for being primitive they are less repressed, and more, um, endowed, so goes the mythology), a more open life.Â They also steal the life force from True Men, if you wish to do a freudian reading in which the neck can stand in for the phallus.Â These primitive forces rise against us, attempting to turn us into weaklings, female ourselves.
The blood brotherhood of True Men track Dracula and Mina to his castle.Â The following scenes include a thorough sexual humiliation ofÂ Harker.
Dracula literally yokes Harker with his own weapon.Â Harker’s forced to watch helplessly from his knees, his hands immobilized, while Dracula slowly runs his hands over Mina. Dracula bends to her neck, initiating his glorious, gloating, ravishment-transformation of this woman who, in the end, no matter how she resisted, cannot save herself. The Count tears off Mina’s lower skirts.Â He forces Van Helsing to use the skirts to block the window from whence cometh the sun, the means of Dracula’s destruction.Â Mina has lost all her decency.Â Immobilized by his hold on her, she’s allowed her clothes to be taken from her under the gaze of herÂ finacÃ©-husband and the brotherhood of True Men (except for the final, brief chemise).
Van Helsing revives and attacks Dracula.Â Mina escapes from Dracula’s transformative labors upon her body.Â Together, as they destroyed Lucy, the brotherhood impale Dracula.
Yet, that isn’t sufficient.Â Mina herself pulls her clothing out of the window,Â letting the western light of daylight power into Dracula’s primitive realm.Â His dark eastern power finally dispelled,Â Dracula is finally destroyed.Â
The end, except for one additional scene that is not in Stoker.
Van Helsing takes up Mina’s torn, discarded skirts, with which the sunlight at been blocked out at Dracula’s order.Â Van Helsing conceals the skirts in the inner breast pocket of his coat.
The others stumble gratefully out of the castle into the sunlight.Â Van Helsing stands at the threshold.Â He takes out Mina’s skirts.Â He rubs the soft fabrics against his face, then conceals them again inside his breast pocket.
Kiiiiiiiiiinkeeeeeeeeeeee.Â What transformation is this, of a Good, True, Manly Man?
From Stoker’s last paragraphs we know that the surviving members of the Brotherhood (the Texan, Quincey Morris perished in the escape post the struggle that rescued Mina from hell) live happily ever after, in close, tender relationship with Mina. Mina is the mother of a son, named for all four of the men.Â These last four paragraphs, oddly, are written by her husband, Harker.Â But the fourth paragraph, the finale of the tale, is quoted from Van Helsing’s summation: “We want no proofs; we ask none to believe us!Â This boy will some day know what a brave and gallant woman his mother is.Â Already he knows her sweetness and loving care; later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake.”
Mina achieves what Lucy had wanted, and died at the hands of the same men for wanting â€“ more than one man in her life.Â Mina has a spotless reputation, with Van Helsing’s oft-spoken devotion to her intellectual brilliance, which he sees as her soul.Â She has a son they all love.Â Mina got it all.Â Why couldn’t Lucy?Â Well, the story wouldn’t have been as exciting ….
One way to read this is that the entire trajectory of vampiric transactions played out for us has been stripped down to the bone, leaving only the essentials in exaggerated relief. Vampirism isn’t about women at all, but about men, their anxieties and what they are obsessed with.Â Unlike Frankenstein for instance, which is about creation, and created by a woman, Mary Shelley,Â the progenitor Dracula was created by a man, and is about death.Â Â The ultimate male sexual anxiety is the loss of sexual potency.Â For a man, loss of potency, or even the slowing down of potency, signals mortality.
Reflected in the temporal hall of mirrors that is vampire literature in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries these sexual conflicts are incapable of final resolution.Â The gender confusions are impossible to neatly integrate, for these matters are in the realm of theÂ irrational.
You cannot confine and subjugate the forces of irrationality forever. The dark force bubbles up and seeps through the inevitable crackÂ inÂ the walls of order and reason, from within as much as from without. The dark force will come in, invited or not, and then, you must fight to take back with your reason, your belief in the good, and with love, to rescue what keeps the world from being transformed entirely into hell.