Vampires, Obsession Throughout Eternity
Obsession. A persistent, disturbing preoccupation with an often-unreasonable idea, feeling, object or person; broadly: compelling motivation (Collegiate Dictionary). Many stories have been told of obsessed men and women who waste their lives on lost causes, calling them tragedies. But what if you were immortal? What if you were forever? Then your life would not be wasted, but instead a reason for living would become instinctive. And what if having an obsession, something criticized by mortal humans, was the only way to keep your sanity and appetite for life through eternity? When looking through the vampire’s eyes in film and literature, we see that the foremost vampires have an obsession, a calling that drives them. Without this obsession, it seems, vampires would be lost through time, wandering the earth with no motivation, and though this may sound redundant, with no life. Vampires, it seems, are more capable of going through time when they have a passion. Whether this passion comes from love, knowledge, or power, vampires – such as the ones from Blade, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Interview with the Vampire – are all driven by their own obsessions, without which they become lost, empty.
According to the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1995), Count Dracula was a man who had sworn to protect the church from its enemies until he found out that his beloved had committed suicide because she thought he had been killed in battle. His love and obsession for her, “Whom he prized above all things on earth,” was so strong that he then swore off the church and thus became vampire. When we again see Count Dracula, he looks old and weak, and has become very eccentric and seemingly insane. But when by accident he discovers that his beloved is alive in Mina, the fianc? of Jonathan Harker, he embarks on a quest to be with her. He becomes youthful and cunning; his mind seems to be that of a charming and intelligent nobleman; instead of that of an elderly recluse. We see the undead come to life, with powers that overwhelm the imagination. But when Mina decides to leave him to wed Jonathan Harker, he again turns into a monster, a shadow of his former self. The life seems to have drained out of him. This proves that it was his love for Mina, his eternal infatuation with her that had kept him going through the ages. It is this obsession that forced him to become a vampire, and he then hoped that one day he would be reunited with his love, because he knew that she would not have been able to join him in heaven. And though he knew of the dangers that surrounded him, he risked everything to be with her, for he would have rather die than to lose her again.
Love also drives Louis, the hero (or victim, depending on the point of view) of Interview with the Vampire. Louis was a sad person when Lestat turned him into a vampire; his sole reason for living was his own guilt and misery. He did not even allow himself the ultimate pleasure a vampire has and needs, human blood. He feeds off rats and other animals, and wanders the street aimlessly, lost. As he puts it after Lestat tells him that there is no hell, “But there was a hell, and no matter where we moved to, I was in it.” But when Lestat gives him an undead companion, a young girl named Claudia, his whole world is turned upside down. He has a new “thirst” for life, literally. He begins to enjoy the very things he had denied himself. As he put it when narrating his story, “Time can pass quickly for mortals when they’re happy. With us, it was the same.” But when his search for knowledge leads to Claudia’s death at the hand of other vampires, he loses his spirit and once again becomes lost. As he describes his new life:
For years I wondered: Italy, Greece… all the ancient lands.
But the world was a tomb to me. A graveyard full of broken statues.
And each of those statues resembled her face.
There was another driving force for the vampires of Interview. It was a quest for knowledge, a mission to find answers, or a link, to a world that was beyond their grasp. Louis and Claudia, who became “orphaned” after they left Lestat for dead, were then involved on a search for other vampires, in hopes of finding out their origin and nature.
We booked a passage to Europe. Over the weeks, while waiting
For the boat, she studied the myths and legends of the Old World.
Obsessed with the search for what she called ‘our kind’”
Thus the two of them had a driving force, as Louis narrates: “We searched village after village… ruin after ruin… country after country. And always we found nothing.” But when they find the vampire Armand and his Theatre of Vampires, they found none of the answers they so desperately searched for. The vampire Armand had his own agenda, and thus sets into motion the events that would lead to the death of Claudia and the destruction of the Theatre of Vampires. He Knew that he needed something to help him adhere to the changing times, he needed Louis to guide him, to be his obsession. “The vampires from the new world came to guide us into a new era, as all we love slowly rots and fades away.” But when Louis turned down his offer, knowing that Armand had been responsible for Claudia’s death, Armand realizes that without Louis as his obsession, he is “dead.” As is, in a way, Louis:
I go on night after night. I feed on those who cross my path.
But all my passion went with her golden hair.
I’m a spirit of preternatural flesh.
Detached. Unchangeable. Empty.
The action movie Blade, though relying more on the action sequences and Hong Kong style martial arts, contains a captivating plot with some interesting twists on the vampire myth. Yet one thing remains constant, and it is the driving obsession behind the two main vampires. In this case, it’s power. Deacon Frost, leader of a vampire cult, is obsessed with finding LaMagra, a supernatural being that he believes will give him the power to conquer the world. Blade, on the other hand, is driven by a fanatical passion and power rush he gets from killing vampires. Their obsessions lead to several confrontations, which set the stage for the final showdown. What makes Frost the strongest vampire among his kin and makes him stand out is his passion to conquer the world with LaMagra. But he is met with opposition from both the House of Erebus (the ruling council of vampires) and from Blade. Yet his drive is so strong he is seldom seen sleeping nor feeding, but always working on a way to accomplish his goal. He becomes strong enough by this that he is eventually able to take on and destroy the House of Erebus. This obsession is apparent when he throws a party and the question on everyone’s mind is “But, where is he?” He is then shown in front of his computer, still working on finding LaMagra. Blade also seems to have given up everything for his desire to kill vampires. He allows himself to feel nothing, not even love for his father figure, Whistler. He is so driven that he often loses sight of the very humanity he tries to protect. At an instant where Frost throws a little girl in front of a bus in order to escape, Blade actually hesitates in choosing between taking out Frost and saving the little girl. Furthermore, when Blade is offered a cure for his vampirism, he decides to turn it down, saying “You keep your cure. It’s not over… there is a war going on. And I have a job to do!” Thus, this eternal passion is what gives Blade life. Because without vampires to hunt, Blade would have nothing to live for.
Vampires are often described as immortal beings of superhuman strength and eternal beauty. Yet this seems to be more of a curse than a gift. Because how can a vampire live through eternity in an ever changing world while they remain the same. This is why the extraordinary vampires of Interview With the Vampire, Blade, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula stood out, because they found the answer, they found a reason for living. Since this reason for living had to be in eternal proportions, it could come as nothing less as an essential obsession that drives through the ages, without which the vampires would be lost. Yet this obsession comes in the same shape as those fundamental human obsessions (thus showing a glimpse of the vampire’s fledging humanity) – Love, Knowledge, and Power.