Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 15:30


Pere Portabella


Saturday 29/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Duke Ellington disliked the term jazz, instead preferring “beyond category” when referring to any type of musical accomplishment. This mesmerising tour de force of audiovisual etching by Catalan filmmaker Portabella, which plays with but shrewdly eschews experimental filmmaking, underground cinema, documentary film, behind-the-scenes film and even fiction, is strictly Dukish in being ‘beyond category’. The Spanish genre director Jesus Franco was churning out one of his more expensive horror flicks (El conde Dracula), starring Christopher Lee, when Portabella, who was present on the set, made his own film based on the events. Vampir is a film about images being constructed (with fake fog and cobwebs), and about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is far more eerie and haunting than not only Franco’s film, but anything since Dreyer’s Vampyr. It is also a film of political metaphors, the kind one would expect being made under Franco’s dictatorship. Known for producing significant and censor-sensitive films in the careers of Carlos Saura (Los golfos), Marco Ferreri (El cochecito, also playing at the festival) and Luis Bunuel (Viridiana), Portabella directed his first film in 1967, going on to make eight features and many shorts. Until Franco’s death his films were shot and shown clandestinely; afterwards, he turned to politics, serving as a senator in the Spanish parliament. A true heir to Murnau, Portabella shot the film in 16mm black-andwhite, letting the images of Vampir bleach or sink into total darkness. The high-contrast images are accompanied by electronic music, drone, opera, muzak, as well as mysteriously inexplicable sound-effects and distortions, in which the director hears the whispers of revelation. The only spoken dialogue is heard at the end, when Lee reads aloud from Stoker’s novel the scene involving Dracula’s death. Cuadecuc, meaning ‘worm’s tail’ in Catalan, refers to the unexposed end of a film’s reel, which contains the unseen element – the truth-bearer. This groundbreaking masterpiece is made entirely out of that cuadecuc

Ehsan Khoshbakht     


Cast and Credits

Scen.: Joan Brossa, Pere Portabella. F.: Manel Esteban. M.: Miguel Bonastre. Scgf.: Joan Enric Lahosa. Mus.: Carles Santos. Int.: Christopher Lee (conte Dracula / se stesso), Herbert Lom (professor Van Helsing / se stesso), Soledad Miranda (Lucy Westenra / se stessa), Jack Taylor (Quincey Morris / se stesso), Paul Muller (Dottor Seward / se stesso), Maria Rohm (Mina Murray / se stessa), Fred Williams (Jonathan Harker / se stesso), Jesús Franco (il servo di Van Helsing). Prod.: Pere Portabella per Films 59. DCP.