A settle down and builds their family home Collinwood

A wind of mystery and darkness sweeps the mind when
one hears the word gothic. The myths and legends of witches, vampires, ghosts
and werewolves fill the eerie silence it creates. The idea holds it origin way
back in literature, architecture and other realms. Yet in the 2012 Hollywood
movie Dark Shadows, there is a
perfect elegance that pervades the air in its marriage of gothic aspects and
modernity. The paper attempts a critical reading of the movie in these two
respects. It is the unsolved black, the eerie midnight
blue, the unquenchable spirit of grey and the impending doom of red that fills
the doubtful silence of the damp  mist,
tempestuous waves and the accompanying darkness of the movie Dark Shadows. Nomenclature holds a very
important position in the movie, something that is evident from the movie’s
name. The movie is a passionate and systematic blend of gothic atmosphere,
subculture, and architecture with the elegant and realistic portrayal of its
characters and incidents. There is also the accompanied intermingling of
modernity with the relic and history.                                                             
The very beginning dialogue with its fervid description of blood
establishes the marrow of the movie. Blood has always been a constant source of
gothic even from the beginning. Although it denotes death, killing and the
like, there are additional significances too. The movie unfolds with the
dialogue It is said that blood is thicker
than water. It is what defines us. Binds us, curses us. For some it means a
life is wealth and privilege.  For others
a life of servitude. Thus there is a reference to the economic and social
hierarchy that exists in the context of one’s birth.                                                          It is the story of
Barnabas Collins, who was born in Liverpool. But the advent of
industrialization and a call for adventure made his family shift to America to
establish their trade in fishing. Their success is enormous that the place
begets the name Collinsport after their family name. They finally settle down
and builds their family home Collinwood which is an architectural masterpiece
with over 40 rooms. The mansion was once at its height of glory but when the
movie shows its present, it is like an ill omen, something abominable, and
creepy. It further adds to the gothic narrative and tone of the movie because
it is built against sunlight. The rooms cast a sickening red colour, are built
huge and filled with tapestries and chandeliers which in turn adds to its
elegance.                                                           
Barnabas’ parents were killed by a witch named Angelique, who was very
alluring, powerful, and procured her charms from dark magic. She killed them because
Barnabas did not reciprocate her love and fell for another girl, Josette. This
underlying love story is what initiates Barnabas becoming a vampire. Josette is
presented in contrast to other characters. She is young, lively , graceful with
a golden hue and light clothing where as Angelique has dark hair, sharp
features and a fearsome countenance. Barnabas, even though turns to dark magic
and ancient spells and links his ideas to that of Mephistopheles, was not all
dark because of his love for Josette. In a turn of events, Angelique makes
Josette jump from a cliff called the Widow’s Hill and curses Barnabas to become
a vampire so that his sufferings would
never end. She later exposes him as a monster and he is then chained,
coffined and buried deep. Till now, the movie employs flashback and now it
comes to the present year 1972 where a young lady is off to Collinsport seeking
job as a nanny.                                                         
She introduces herself as Victoria Winters.. The present inhabitants of
the mansion are members of the Collins family, the descendants of Barnabas.
There is a picture of Barnabas hung in the hall, but they are not completely
aware of its true history. The mansion is almost in ruins and so is the family
business. Only their pride remains. The characters are unique in a gothic way.
The lady of the house, Elizabeth is a handsome woman that is dressed in dark
clothes. Her daughter Carolyn is a strange young girl who is ill-tempered and
creepy. She always wears choker and is fearless. Elizabeth’s brother, Roger is
a cunning fellow. He is a womanizer and does not care for his son David. David
is a young boy of seven. He lost his mother but feels that she is with him. He
believes in ghosts. The other members of the family think of him as queer. A
psychiatrist Dr Julia was brought in for therapy, with no particular results
and she lives with the family.                                                          
The characters are very important because they establish the gateway
that helps channel the idea to the minds of the viewers or audience. Each and
every character in the movie is unique and significant in its own way. The
present inhabitants of the mansion are representatives of the 1970s, which is
in complete contrast to when Barnabas lived. This, essentially, is what marks
the horizon of comedy in the movie. Victoria is actually the reincarnation of
Barnabas’ lost love, Josette.                                                                   
One day, while digging a construction site, the workers strikes
something, which was Barnabas’coffin. He is then released into the open with a
hunger of 196 years and a grave temperament. The surroundings are familiar yet
strange for him. He finds himself staring at the large yellow illumination from
the M-shaped signboard of McDonalds and takes it for the wicked symbol of
Mephistopheles. A train of events follows, that is rich in comedy, yet with an
elegant grace and rustic horror. The changes that have occurred over two centuries
startle Barnabas. He perceives of car headlights as strange luminance of Satan, tarred
road as curious terrain, moving car
as a specter of Lucifer. With a mind piled up in chaos and confusion, he walks to
Collinwood. The traffic lights, theatre, telephone booth, restaurants amaze him
at the same time heightens the confusion.                                                               
He then starts living at the mansion, which was almost in ruins.
Elizabeth befriends him as he reveals the hidden treasure of the Collins
family. She keeps his identity a secret and introduces him as a distant
relative from Europe. He then helps the family restore its past glory and they
restart the family business. He getting acquainted with the family members is
humorous and spooky. The children finds him bizarre in appearance, speech and
manners yet not scared. He is reminded of Josette in Victoria and has a soft
spot for her. He then tries to courting her with the help of Carolyn. Barnabas
slowly accustoms himself with the manners of the age. Although he is reluctant
to change at first, he slowly starts enjoying it .He was even shocked to see a
woman doctor.                                                         
            The antagonist comes
in the form of Angelique, who manages to survive the years with her magic and
wickedness and by deceiving the people. She is shocked and happy to see him,
but is still unhappy that he does not love her. She tries to sabotage the
Collins Empire and to coffin him again. In the meantime, Dr Julia discovers
that Barnabas is a vampire and promises to make him human by blood transfusion.
Barnabas’ only and intense desire was to become human again. But the doctor hoodwinks
him and injects the vampire blood on her to make herself immortal. Barnabas
discovers the deception, kills her and throws her into the ocean tied to a
stone.                                                   
He then decides to organize a ball to show off the family pride. It then
results in a Happening which was a
modern version of ball. There is great enthusiasm, dance, music and merriment
filled with gothic subculture which adds to the soul of the movie. Barnabas
confesses his love for Victoria who reciprocates it. Angelique is infuriated
and exposes him. Barnabas in turn exposes her, in her true witch form. The
climax is a series of events with a lot of revelations. Carolyn is actually a
werewolf and David’s mother’s ghost helps in fighting the witch. Victoria is
cursed to jump of the cliff, just like Josette. Barnabas releases her from the
trance, but she opines that he lives in
the shadows and she in the light. In
her attempt to commit suicide, he turns her into a vampire and their love story
continues. In the end, there is closure for everyone as Angelique is dead. And
the doctor opens her eyes in the ocean as she turns into a vampire.                                                   
Although the major focus of the movie is on the blending of the old and
the new in a gothic light, there are several underlying factors that add to it.The colors used to
represent a situation, rooms and the dressing of characters reveals a lot of
aspects. For instance the personality of a character, the seriousness of a
situation etc are some. The dilemma of the characters is another bead in the
chain. Barnabas faces identity crisis after waking up from his long sleep.
Although he manages, he faces several issues. Dr Julia’s actions can be
justified when she confesses to Barnabas that it is her desire to stay young
that made her cheat him. Human beings have always dreamed of achieving
something beyond the ordinary. Julia’s actions are no exception. The onset of
industrialization is a very important theme that adds to the curiosity. If it
weren’t for the construction, Barnabas would still be coffined. Nomenclature is
yet another crucial detail. Widow’s hill, from where Josette and Victoria
commit suicide and Angelique, which means angel-like are to name a few. And
finally, nature plays a key role too. This can be found expression in the
change in weather, according to the circumstances and incidents, tempest and
rains in times of fury, and the lighting according to the psyche of the
characters.

                                                  It has often been said that
humanity has always feared what they don’t understand and the quest for
something beyond the ordinary still lingers. Ghosts, angels, fairies,
werewolves, vampires , witches etc have often 
been part of our bedtime stories. These are part of this fantasy which
longs to achieve the extraordinary. Gothic literature and the accompanying
subculture thus is an integral part of imagination which caters to another
realm of reality. It is the ability to think out of the box, to give birth to
an idea and help complete the circle that finds expression through literature.
Since visualizing is an integral part of imagination, film adaptations of such
literatures are fondly popular. In a way , it colors life in a different hue
and it is indeed this love for imagination, fantasy and the quest to achieve
the something beyond  that is a source of
inspiration in the realms of art, literature, culture and the like.                                           

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