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Dark Shadows


Some notes on Tim Burton’s view of America

This is the story of an English family immigrating to America. They thrive on fishing, build a town around themselves, & a manor in which to live. Despite the great success of this solid Gothic foundation, the parents die & the son is sent to the madhouse.

The vampire is convinced the woman whose love he did not accept was a witch, having sold her soul to the devil for power, & perhaps his, damning him to an eternity of suffering after killing his betrothed. Apparently, erotic love threatens to destroy the family; the lovers are all monsters.

He was far from innocent, having aroused the woman’s love, but destroying his family seems unjust. The witch was a commoner; the vampire an aristocrat. She is, however, also immortal. She did not want justice, but happiness. As he is cold, she is hot; as he is dark; she is bright; as he is reserved, she has sex-appeal.

This vampire, full of conservative habits, confronts the counter-culture America of 1972. He claims to have been buried for two centuries, which would make his last day above earth sometime in 1772. The witch says he exaggerates: At most, it had been 196 years… Apparently, some things are unchanged: The few claim privilege; the many form mobs. But women can now be doctors; & hippies litter the landscape.

The family is nowadays ruled by a matriarch; no men worth the name remain; the only hope is a young boy. Their manor is falling to pieces, their fishing business is all but lost, & the town despises them. – The successful endeavors to restore the family seem to hinge on some persuasion & the recovery of wealth hidden in the house.

It is said that blood is thicker than water. This peculiar phrase opens & closes the story, suggesting the common opinion is, There is something stronger than nature, here instanced by the sea. But blood means two different things: Pedigree & life. Both suggest immortality – for the species & the soul respectively. Interestingly, we see no successful marriage, or unsuccessful…

The patriarch told his boy that family is the only wealth – the highest good. Indeed, the family survives the destruction of its business & home, both legitimate objects of pride. The matriarch faces this disaster with grim determination: We will do what we have always done: Endure. The family itself seems unchanged.

The matriarch interviews her governess on three subjects: the president, the war, & equality between men & women. This unusually clever girl says she has never met the president, she does not watch TV, & she prefers inequality, lest men become uncontrollable. She apparently minds her own business: Rule of the household.

The best treat for fans of Johnny Depp this year