Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Swedish Vampires and Freud

Well... since I spent last night (and a good part of the early morning too, to my great dismay) writing a paper for my Literary & Cultural Theory class comparing Freud's famous 1919 essay "The Uncanny" to a Swedish vampire film from 2008 called Let the Right One In, or, more fittingly, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Scandinavian languages are the best!!), I figured I'd blog about it. And frankly, there hasn't been quite enough fire to borrow around here lately...

Though the film follows the development of a relationship between a young outcast named Oskar living in a suburb outside of Stockholm with his single mother and the pale, oddly-behaved androgynous child next door, Eli (who is soon revealed to be a vampire, and who is not really a girl... complicated stuff, folks) this is far from tween Twilight fare. John Adjvide Lindqvist's script touches upon much darker themes.

Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar (...could he look more Swedish, please?)

The delicate integration between the familiar and the unknown, which Freud delineates as an essential element of that which is "uncanny," emerges as a common trope throughout Let the Right One In. Visually speaking, there is a significant stillness and almost unnatural quietness to Alfredson’s filmic imagery; in the utterly frozen landscape shots, waning wintry light and forthright, frank depictions of would-be grisly murder acts (without the use of the usual dramatic “horror-movie-esque” heavy brass chords announcing danger).

I won't give anything else away, but suffice it to say that you should see this film, even if you aren't a foreign-movie buff or a slasher film aficionado. It's not gruesome or terrifying but it does harness a definite eerie-ness, and can be looked at as a love story, a coming-of-age allegory, a subtle cultural criticism, you name it... Alfredson's juxtapositions of light with dark, tenderness with violence, familiar and unfamiliar result in a work of art that demonstrates the uncanny in its most beautiful sense. Not to mention, the two young leads are phenomenal.

Lina Leandersson as Eli, Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar

Below, a link to the official trailer-- which I must say, makes the film look a great deal more like a horror film than it actually is (in my humble opinion). Enjoy!

...and a link to Freud's essay, "The Uncanny," just in case you have a LOT of time on your hands and/or are interested in psychology...

Fun fact: the title of the film, which is based on Lindqvist's novel of the same title, apparently came from the Morrissey song "Let the Right One Slip In," which refers to the legend that vampires must be invited into homes before they can enter (this concept is explored in probably the most disturbing scene in the film). Good ol' Moz... inspiring Scandinavian cinema and whatnot.

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