October 31, 2013

Bethlen Castle, Romania

It seems that everyone wants to know more about castles in Transylvania, Romania and seems that there have been some requests for another post on castles. Since I have already done posts on both Bran Castle (Dracula’s castle) and Cachtice Castle (Elizabeth Bathory’s castle), for this post I chose Magna Curia or Bethlen Castle, as it is more commonly known.  

            Bethlen Castle was built in 1582 by the Hungarian captain Ferenc Geszty at the foot of a hill. This is not exactly the most strategic place to build a castle. Most castles are built on top of a hill, not at the foot of one. Its style is based on the original castles, called Motte and Baileys castles. These castles were fairly basic-looking keeps built at the top of a hill. The cool thing was that they built some of the hills from the dirt that they dug up from the where they put the moat. This put them on higher ground, giving the defenders the advantage if they were attacked. This historical context made it even harder for me to understand why anyone would build Brethen Castle at the foot of a hill. It would be the worst place for a castle from a strategic point of view. Then again, this castle was built during the Renaissance, when people building castles were more concerned with how a castle looked and not what strategic placement it had.

            One of the men who lived in this castle was Sigismund Bathory. Sigismund joined the ranks of Christian princes fighting against the Turks in 1588, and it was he who signed the treaty that brought Wallachia under the sovereignty of Transylvania. Sigismund became Prince of Transylvania, ruling from 1599-1608.

            Gabriel Bathory also lived in Bethlen Castle. He ruled as Prince of Transylvania from 1608 until 1613.  I find it interesting that two members of the Bathory line ruled as Princes of Transylvania during the life span of Elizabeth Bathory and that Gabriel Bathory died the year before Elizabeth Bathory was found out and put to death.

            It was Gabriel Bathory who renovated Bethlen Castle. After the renovation, the building became known as Magna Curia. It was these renovations that made the building a good candidate to become a museum, and it was converted into one in 1882. Specifically, it became the Museum of Dacian and Romania Civilisation. Part of the reason Magna Curia was made into a museum was because it is located in Deva. The city of Deva was the capital of Transylvania for a period of time. The museum contains ethnographic, numismatic and natural science exhibits. I like the fact that some of the old castles of Transylvania have been turned into museums. This means that not only can people see the exhibits being shown, they get to see the castles themselves. It also means that the castles are maintained and will not just fall into ruin like some castles in other countries. 

October 25, 2013

Dracula: The Dark Prince A Movie Review

There are so many movie reviews out there, this one is mine.

This one is called Dracula: The Dark Prince, and I think it is an interesting take on the Dracula myth. I liked it because they included parts of actual history in the movie. The movie describes how he lived as a man, Vlad the Prince of Wallachia, and how he became the monster, Dracula. I also like the idea that Dracula loved a woman. I

t was the loss of his love that turned Vlad into Dracula. He became a monster, a vampire, when he lost his love and swore against God, saying how he would no longer follow in the ways of God. Then there is the fact of reincarnation that gets brought up. Dracula’s love is killed in the early part of the movie, and then her reincarnation appears as a vampire hunter out to kill Dracula. The methods used and the interpretation of the story of the movie are really interesting.

            A mixture of flash backs and comic book drawings tells the story in this movie. I found this to be a good way to describe the true agony that Vlad felt when his wife was killed by the priests that served him. There are just some emotions that cannot be truly shown that well by an actor, so sometimes it takes drawing it in order to get the idea across. Being able to highlight certain features is much easier to do in a sketch or drawing. I find that even my favourite actors are unable to fully portray some emotions in movies. Sure, some can get the emotions across in a TV series. 

The reason that they can do this is because they spend more time as that character and are more involved in the role. The opening credits in this film are a mixture of comic book images and images of the actors, and it details the story behind how Dracula became a vampire. The comic book images really come in handy when they need to portray the really, really emotional parts and bloody parts.

            I enjoyed the fact that they used reincarnation in this movie. I also really enjoyed they way they explain how Dracula became Dracula because I have not seen many movies that tried to explain how Dracula became a vampire. I also like that Dracula was in love, and it appeared that he was miserable without the woman he loved. 

I found it really interesting that they gave the name Elizabeth to Dracula’s love. The same name as the Blood Countess, the other person on whom the vampire myth is based. I also appreciated the love scenes, of course. No, I do not mean the ‘dirty’ love scenes, but those are there, too. I am talking, instead, about the sequence of scenes where Dracula convinces his love’s reincarnation to fall in love with him again. I will leave it to you to watch the movie to see what happens at the end.

October 10, 2013

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

Hey everyone. The other night I was searching through my Netflix and came across the movie The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. I figured it might be an interesting movie, so I put it on. It is a movie for children and, as expected, it was more funny than scary. Sure, there were some semi-scary parts but not that many. The movie was released by Nickelodeon, the main character is played by Victoria Justice. 

The plot was your basic supernatural movie for children/teens: There were your traditional clichés, and there was the creepy castle in Romania.  They set the movie in a town called Wolfsburg. I've since learned that this is the name of an actual town, but it is not in Romania; it is in Germany. I am not sure that they were really going for accuracy, but with that being the case, I think they should have made up a city name that did not already exist. I think they were aiming to have the small town of Wolfsburg be just outside of Transylvania. There was mention of visiting Dracula’s castle. They also had your classic, creepy housekeeper, and throughout the movie, whenever someone said her name, wolves howled. The funny part about this was that the characters heard the wolves and actually commented on the howling. They tried to avoid saying her name as much as possible.

One of the more annoying clichés I saw in the movie was the transformation that the main character went through during the movie. At the beginning of the story she is a shy, awkward, and geeky teen. It seemed she would do anything to get noticed by the guy she liked. (She even paid for his lunch!) Now, I am not a hard core feminist or anything, but it makes me sad to see girls being portrayed like that in movies. It was not so much the shy, awkward and geeky part that I object to, but the doing anything to be noticed by the guy is unfortunate. They did save it, though, at the end. After going through her transformation throughout the movie she does change her outlook. She is no longer as shy or awkward, but she is still geeky, which is awesome. When the stereotypical hot guy from the beginning offers to buy her lunch, she turns him down, paying for her own lunch, and then she shoots him down when he asks her to the prom. For those who like the romantic flavour in a movie, she does get a guy at the end — he ends up with the guy who fell for her in Romania before she went through her transformation.

And then there is the brother. He is the movie buff and monster buff of the family. I found it interesting how he deals with the fact that his sister turns into a werewolf. He has to figure out everything in the plot of the movie and save his sister. It is actually due to his curiosity in their new castle that leads to his sister turning into a werewolf, so it is only fair that he should be the one to save her — which he has to do a few times. And what is a werewolf movie set in Romania without a few vampires? 

I really enjoyed the movie overall. It definitely makes for a good Halloween movie for those looking for something to watch with the children in the weeks to come.

October 3, 2013

Dracula 2013

It has come to my attention that there will be a new TV series on NBC called Dracula. I watched the trailer and it appears interesting. This show will be set in Victorian era London, and Dracula is living under the name Alexander Grayson. In the show he has an assistant who knows who he truly is, kind of like his sidekick, and Dracula is apparently on a quest.

The trailer is good and does not fully give away exactly what that quest is. I have a theory though. Within the trailer there are clips of flashback to Transylvania. By the clothing they are using my guess is that they are trying to portray a medieval Transylvania. The clip shows a woman being burned at the stake while Dracula tries to fight to save her. The clip happens just after Dracula meets a woman in London. The woman from London bears a striking resemblance to the woman from the flashback clip. My theory is that Dracula is searching for the woman he loved and watched die. There is a quick mention of how horrible it would be to turn the woman into a being like Dracula, meaning a vampire.

 I find it interesting that the writers for the show are playing with the idea of reincarnation. There are not many shows that bring that in as a plot driver because it can get complicated and go completely awry. I find that there are too many variables that exist in stories that deal with reincarnations and past lives. My guess is that in this case they are using it as a plot driver to advance the idea of true, everlasting love. They want to show a love that can span lifetimes. In this series, the woman does recognize Dracula. She mentions that she feels like they have met before. It also appears that Dracula has been looking for her through the years. I guess true love will win out, not matter what.
And this brings me to another point of confusion — true love and Dracula do not really mix. Well, actually it is more accurate to say that monogamous true love and Dracula do not mix. Many different stories portray Dracula having more than one wife. He truly loves all of his wives. That fact in the stories is always the same, though; Dracula does know how to love. 

There are two other stories that I know of where Dracula is monogamous. One was a teen novel called Dracula in Love by Karen Essex. As a teen novel it is very sappy and all about the woman finding true love. The fact that it is with Dracula just makes it an ‘epic’ love. The other one was the movie Hotel Transylvania. This one makes sense because it is a children’s movie and is about Dracula protecting his daughter. I find it interesting that all three stories have Dracula losing his love to villagers burning her at the stake.

I will likely make another post about the show once it airs, and I will wait for two or three episode to air before making another post. I will also only make it if there is interest in the post.