What is it about vampires?

From Angel to Edward to Mick St. John, we seem to be in a love affair of long standing with the whole “children of the night” genre.

Last night I got together with some girlfriends to go see the new movie, Twilight, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer.  It’s your basic teenage vampire-human love story, replete with adolescent angst, transcendent romance, and the dichotomy of good and evil as it applies to the somewhat reluctantly undead.

I liked it.

As always, the book was better–but overall I was happy with the casting and the plot progression in the movie.  And the scenery was breathtaking, a lush vindication for those of us who choose to live in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.  From Forks to Port Angeles, the movie did a good job of capturing the homegrown feeling of small town Washington.

Beyond that, I’ve been thinking about the movie’s romantic element.  Perhaps it’s merely an embodiment of the classic “unavailable guy” mystique, or echoes of the star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet, but I think there’s more to it than that.  For one thing, the typical vampire half of the vampire-human romantic pairing is a “good” vampire, or one that battles his compulsion to…well, do what vampires do.  He overcomes his inclinations, sacrificing his own needs for the sake of others.  Knowing the awesome destruction within his power, we admire his restraint, his selflessness.  Second, he has amazing abilities.  Shades of the superhero: super speed, super hearing, super strength (and, of course, super great hair).  He can do what we only wish we could, and when we have him in our corner, we, too, feel invincible, protected.  And then there’s the epic love–a love that is not only drawing in idealistic teenage girls, but has grown women sighing in soulful yearning in bookstores and theaters across America.  It is unconditional.  It is everlastiing.  It is unshakeable.  Forever love.

I think there’s something in each of us that longs to be seen, known, and loved by someone (Someone?) greater than we are.  I may be digging too deep for meaning here, but in the popularity of the Twilight books, in the acclaim of the Smallville and Roswell TV series, in the runaway success of a legion of superhero movies, I see yet another tiny reflection of our universal longing, our sehnsucht.

What do you think?

7 responses »

  1. Well, first I had to look up “sehnsucht.” Thanks very much for the link! We are going to see Twilight tonight – my father, Younger Bro, and myself. In fiction, we often relate to a character and mentally inhabit that person for a while. Although Bella got a bit too self-involved (hello, book 2) for my taste, who wouldn’t want the thrill of dating a guy like Edward? At least for a little while. But you made a good point in your blog and it probably explains the appeal of Angel. Or even Spike. And of course I have a huge soft spot for Giles, although he is very much NOT undead. I digress… Maybe it has more to do with good looks and British accents in my case. I shall stop rambling now! 😉

  2. I think we are all created with THE STORY written on our hearts. And I believe that when we experience something that reminds us of it we are imediately attracted. We are pulled towards it with an undefinable longing. That longing is a need to be reconciled or if we are already reconciled, to see that reconciliation from another angle.

  3. I love the word “sehnsucht”…it’s one of my favorite words!

    I’ve not read the books or seen the movie, but I have friends in both camps….loved it….it’s ok. I will say though I think I might prefer the actor playing Edward better in his previous role of Cedric in Harry Potter 🙂

    I may read the books in the future and would want to do that before seeing the movie.

  4. I’m so excited you posted on this! Going tonight to see it–can’t wait! (I’m in Rose’s “loved it” camp! hee hee) The books were so good…and for the reasons you mentioned.

  5. Good news for all the moody, mopey teen girls out there: You are irresistible to the immortals. They love the way you pout.

    I saw the movie with my youngest daughter and her friend this weekend. I am decidedly not the target audience.

    My main impression: If memory serves seductive allure and terrible stomach pain are two different facial expressions.

    This is, nevertheless, a great review. I liked it better than I liked the movie.

    Hello, Katrina.

  6. Makes a lot of sense to me. Being a student of the social sciences and working in behavioral health, I tend to analyze things in just this way. The superhero aspect of this appeals to me, and I plan on seeing it with my wife.

    I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for some time, and am glad to be back. I have always enjoyed your blog.


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