Sunday, October 12, 2014

Let the Games Begin: Dracula Untold

"They have brought war to our land and they will pay dearly for it," Vlad (Luke Evans) tells the people he is bound to protect. If all I had to go on was a clip of the film, like the trailers and the one above, I would--again--feel this was going to be a pro-socialist film, however, I assure you, there could be nothing further from the truth. As ISIS massacres innocent people in the Middle East (especially Christians) as they try to re-establish the caliphate, Dracula Untold makes it clear that the history that has gone "untold" is that of how Vlad the Impaler stopped the marching of Islam from spreading throughout Europe and, at least twice, the film insinuates the importance of this, which is just one of two reasons why the film is so important; the second reason is a massive spoiler, so if you haven't seen the film, I do urge you to do so before reading this review because it is worth it. Ultimately, as we watch the narrative play out, the film serves as a warning for Americans about to launch our own revolution to take back our country that, once we get a taste of blood, we will be consumed by it.
There are some critics I have read who have complained about holes in the narrative, but reading their reviews, I think it's safe to say they didn't like the film and were inventing excuses as to why; granted, you look at any two-hour film long enough and you can poke holes in the story-line, however, the story line isn't the point, it's the questions and morality raised by the story line that is the point, and critics overlooking these imperative and timely questions just aren't doing their job. There are two important characteristics about the Ottomans that make them Vlad's enemy: first, they are intent on spreading and enforcing Islam throughout the whole world, just as we are seeing today with ISIS and the massacre of Christians in the Middle East (and the numerous threats that have been aimed at the US and West in general) and it is quite clear that Vlad and his family are celebrating Easter when the Turks appear and the Turks are not celebrating Easter; there is, then, a clash between Christianity and Islam that has been started, again, by Islam, in refusing to allow other religions to exist in peace. Secondly, the lack of respect and value for individuality and life. As a young slave, Vlad was taught to kill without conscience and die without complaint, which is what socialist governments (like China and North Korea and the former Soviet Union) teach their people. Additionally, when the sultan (Dominic Cooper) orders Vlad to give up his only child to be a royal hostage and go through what Vlad went through, the sultan tells Vlad, that he is virile and can have more sons to replace the one, showing a disregard for family values and the priority that parents place upon their children. 
It is near the end, the nightmare scene that Vlad so desperately tries to keep from happening, happens anyway, and the three threads of the plot come together to demonstrate the true purpose of the film's message. Very simply, as we are used to it, Vlad the father symbolizes the active force of the economy and also the traditions of the government since he is not only a father and husband, but also the prince and government of his country; Mirena, likewise, is the passive principle of the motherland since she is mother and wife, but also, as Vlad's queen, she symbolizes the traditions and culture of the motherland since she is the "first lady." Ingeras, their son, symbolizes the future, as children always do (since his name is feminine, it doesn't mean that the boy himself is feminine, rather that Ingeras will embody tradition as of both his father and mother when he rules and will continue what he has seen his parents do). When Ingeras is taken by the Turks, it's not just Vlad's son that is taken, but America's future is taken by the Muslims; when Mirena falls over the edge, it's America being intentionally pushed "over the fiscal cliff" and the strength and power of the economy (Vlad) can't save it because the fall is too fast (like with the fall of Gwen [Emma Stone] in The Amazing Spider Man 2). The entire future of America is spelled out in this simple, but accurate scene, and it validates the stakes of the dire situation(s) we are now facing.
Young Ingeras is really the hero of the film because he's the one that has the greatest faith and the willing heart to put God before anything else. Since Ingeras grows up in the Church, and apparently dies when a normal mortal should, I don't think there is a Son of Dracula on the horizon for this newest franchise.
It is probably in the opening lines that the film establishes where it wants to go and what values it has chosen to uphold. We learn that young Vlad was a royal hostage in the Ottoman court, and that he was a slave. Having grown into the perfect, dehumanized soldier for the Ottomans, Vlad earned his freedom and returned to his homeland of Transylvania where he became the prince of his people and maintained peace for twenty years. There are two important values to be gleaned from this background information: first, that's really the American Dream, isn't it? You put in your hard labor, then you attain that which you want, having advanced from slave to ruler. The second aspect is twenty years of peace. What do we know about historical films?
They are never, ever about history.
Mirena (Sarah Gadon) is Vlad's wife and queen, here at the Easter celebration. Christianity is very much associated with Mirena, why? As usual, she symbolizes "the motherland," and not just that of Transylvania, but of America as well. Even though Vlad grew up in the court of the Turks, Vlad did not become a Muslim, nor, as a subject of the Caliphate, did Vlad impose Islam upon his people when he returned to them, rather, he married a Christian woman, Mirena, and the people practiced Christianity; why is this important? It re-establishes a theme we saw in 300 when the Persian king Xerxes tells King Leonides (Gerard Butler) that he would gladly sacrifice any of his men for victory, to which Leonides replies, "And I would gladly die for any one of mine." As is established in the opening monologue of the film, the Turks only value humans for the amount of killing and fear they can inspire for their victories, and nothing else, just like the Xerxes of 300. Vlad, like Leonides, is willing numerous times to give himself up, for his family and his people, because he values life, liberty and his homeland. In this image, we have a faithful portrait of Mirena: her hair is pulled back, referring to her discipline (she is emotional, but she doesn't let her emotions run away with her) and her headpiece is decorative and detailed, symbolizing her thought processes (just as there are lots of tiny "pockets" of the design of her headpiece/crown, so she is able to be very detail-oriented in her thought process and see, not just the big picture, but what goes into making the big picture).  There is a fur collar around her neck, symbolizing the animal appetites (the animal from which the fur was taken, and our neck symbolizes what it is that leads us or enslaves us). Closer to her neck, however, are the small pearls of her necklace: Mirena loves her family and her husband (her animal appetites) but wisdom (the pearls) are more important since they are closer to her neck: for example, in the scene when we first meet her, she is playing with Ingeras, and wants her family to be together, but will not allow Vlad and their son to go riding the next day because it's Easter, and Easter is more important. Throughout the film, we associate the dragon symbol with Vlad, who informs the Master Vampire that "Dracul" means "protector of the innocents" (and the Master Vampire tells him it means son of the devil). We see, however, the dragon symbol at the top of Mirena's chair, and that draws subtle attention to how she, too, protects the innocents, not only her own son, but Vlad as well (more on this below). 
We know the film takes place in 1442, and Vlad's presence had meant peace for 20 years, and, at the Easter celebration, one of his men adds, "May there be another 20 years" of peace, after which the Turks enter. A film about an historical topic has to balance the historical record and the modern audience, because we the viewers are not interested in history unless it applies to us; so, does the narrative apply to us? Yes. The film has been released in 2014; twenty years from 2014 is 1994 when the last vestiges of the former Soviet Union were laid to rest and the communist country no longer posed a threat to America's freedom, the Cold War being finally over. That is the twenty years of peace to which Dracula Untold refers, but which can't continue because of three enemies in the film: the Turks, the socialists (which the demeanor and practices of the Turks embody) and the threat of the Master Vampire wearing the business suit at the end of the film.
We're skipping a bit ahead with this image, however, it's a decent place to do it. This is perhaps one of the most important images in the film, Vlad climbing up the sheer side of Broken Tooth Mountain with his red cape flying in the wind. Why? Visually, it's supposed to remind the viewers of when in, 300, King Leonides climbs up the side of the mountain to consult with the Ephors about his plan for defeating the Persian army. Even though 300 came out in 2006, we are still fighting the same enemy and they are definitely winning. Which leads us to a running theme in films of the last several years: leadership. As we have discussed, with the person publicly known as Barak Hussein Obama always being on the golf course, or always denying that he knew anything about anything, but is one of the smartest people in the world, films such as Iron Man, Thor, Star Trek, 300: Rise of an Empire and even Dracula Untold make Obama look like a treasonous viper, or at least nothing above a "community organizer." These are direct and intentional underminings of Obama's time in office, reminding Americans what true leadership is and what it is not. Even though Vlad makes a terrible mistake in bargaining with the Master Vampire for his soul, he is rather like Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), when he told Spock, "I don't know what I should do, only what I can do." There is an important difference between Leonides and Vlad: Leonides has an army, and Vlad does not.  The film makers make it quite clear that Vlad is at a disadvantage over this, and that, since he cannot protect himself, that is part of what drives him to make this terrible deal.
So, just as we saw Taken 2 being prophetic with its narrative of Muslims still attacking the US, and opening on the weekend of the Benghazi attacks, so Dracula Untold, with his untold history of how he kept back the Muslim invasion into Europe, is also prophetic (and a sign of the artistry that went into making it) as it foresaw militant Muslims rise up again (more than a year before ISIS starting its sweep of the Middle East when it went into production) and the need we have now of a strong leader who would stop them, but also how the threat of the Muslims would also contain the threat of socialism in its very worst aspects. What kind of a leader is Mehmed II and what kind of a leader is Vlad?
There is another important film reference, that to William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in Braveheart. Before he leaves her, Mirena gives Vlad her necklace that he tucks in the sleeve of his armor, like Wallace did with his wife's handkerchief she made for him and he kept on himself; why reference this? Anytime any film references another film, it's to expand the film's vocabulary, to remind us of the important cinematic moments that we all share, and to help build-up the characters, to insure that we the audience are going to see the characters the way the film makers see the characters, and a way to do that is by quoting/referencing those films in ways that viewers like you and me will catch and process so we are making those connections (this is part of what literary theorists call Reader Response theory: artists know what it's like to live in the world, we watch TV shows, eat fast food, stay on the computer way too long and on our cell phones even longer; they also know what books we read, moves we watch and music we listen to, so they will reference it in their art to further their connection with the audience and deepen the audience's connection to their art). Like Wallace and Leonides, Vlad is facing impossible odds against him, and by comparing their character to these other two cinematic and historical figures, the film makers invite a wider discussion on the similarities, differences and problems facing each of these heroes in their struggles.
Mehmed the Conqueror, or Mehmed II, was caliphate of the Muslim world when Vlad was a prince in his homeland. On one hand, we can say that Mehmed is a good leader, in the sense that he knows how to get his men to fight: when Medmed gets news of Vlad's incredible strength and speed in defeating his forces, he blindfolds all his army, thinking that, if they can't see Vlad, they won't be afraid of him, and the technique actually seems to work. On the other hand, we can clearly deduce that Mehmed is a vicious barbarian because of his cheap estimation of fatherhood, individuality and even spirituality (he's marching in the name of Islam, but we never see him do anything "devout").
Another aspect of Mehmed which embodies socialism is that, Vlad was better at everything than Mehmed was. Vlad had to work harder than the royal Mehmed, so he became stronger and better because of the threats against his life, whereas Mehmed would have been more protected being the heir to the throne; since they didn't care if Vlad lived or died (and we may see this same thing in Ridley Scott's upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings between Ramses and Moses) Vlad had to fight for his life every day and that suffering made him stronger. Having suffered, and knowing what that is like, means that Vlad also doesn't want others to suffer needlessly, whereas not having really been through suffering himself, Mehmed doesn't care about the life or quality of life of anyone but himself.
We know Mehmed doesn't value fatherhood--again, an attack on men that is the real gender war raging in America, not the so-called "war on women"--not only because he tells Vlad that he can sire more sons if he is virile, but also because Mehmed's own father had abolished the practice of collecting 1,000 boys for his army, but Mehmed, instead of honoring his father, goes back on his father's word, showing a lack of respect for both. Ingeras, however, in honoring his father Vlad (because Vlad is a good, protective father concerned about how his son grows up) will honor his father by being willing to be taken as a hostage so his father will be proud of him; that is the greatest testament to a good father that there can be, because essentially, this is exactly what Jesus did: just as Ingeras offered himself as ransom for his family and homeland, so Jesus offered Himself as ransom for us and our sins (which is why Ingeras comes to his father with the loaf of bread later in the film). What kind of a leader is Vlad?
We can see echoes of the Clint Eastwood film Unforgiven in Vlad's character development. Bill Munny (Eastwood) had been a notorious killer, then met his wife and reformed; an opportunity to make money off the whores' bounty turned him into a killer again, so, like Vlad, we can see the monster reformed resurrecting himself. This is a genuine question the film poses:  does Vlad ever truly reform and put his murderous ways behind him, or has his blood thirst always been with him, waiting for a chance to come out again? To some degree, that is not a fair question, we are all human, and we are constantly facing temptations to commit any kind of sin the demons can get us to commit. What is fair, however, is that Vlad chooses to act on his temptations, and that is an abuse of his free will: we must always use our free will to choose Him Who has given us the gift of free will.
Vlad was a monster.
The atmosphere and purpose for his being in the Turkish court were so that he would become a monster; everything was tuned to bring out the very worst in him for the advantage of the Turks. Once he returned to his homeland, his wife, son and responsibilities as a ruler were meant to insure that the very best was brought out in him, so he could bring out the best in others; it appears that it worked. So, when Mehmed's envoy comes, like the Persian envoy in 300 asking for "Earth and water" as a sign of Leonides' allegiance to Xerxes, Mehmed asks for 1,000 boys along with the silver tribute. This scene introduces us to the problem that will almost be the death of Vlad towards the end: silver.
When Vlad tells his son, "Run to your mother, now!" he isn't saying it just to his son, he's saying it to us, the audience. Why? At the end, when Vlad fights Mehmed, Vlad tells him that he's going to wipe Mehmed's name from the history books (which is what Xerxes tells Leonides he is going to do to Leonides and the 300, that no one will ever know what they did in sacrificing themselves) and I think Vlad's real plan at that point is to use his powers to completely rid the world of Turks. In telling Ingeras to go to his mother, he is telling us to cling to the motherland, do not meet and appease the enemy the way he has done up to this point, because if we do, we are apt to make the same mistake he is going to make.
How does Mehmet know to use the silver to weaken Vlad when he had to fight Vlad in single combat? Traditionally, silver does not weaken a vampire at all (please see caption in image below for further details) even though Mehmet know to use a wooden spike through Vlad's heart, which is a traditional method for killing vampires (the wood of the stake is a reminder that Jesus died upon the Wood of the Cross for your sins and you owe your heart to Him Who died for it); so, why have the film makers introduced this device? When the Turkish envoy comes to collect the "tribute," they are actually collecting the dhimmi or jizyah, a tax levied upon all non-Muslims by Muslims for not being Muslim. This does two things: first, it builds up the treasury of the Muslim government so they can stay armed and well-funded, and it depletes the treasury of the one's paying the tax so they cannot arm themselves or wage war. So how does this play into silver hurting a vampire?
His name is confusing, and he isn't really referred to by any proper name, or history, in the film, except the power on Broken Tooth Mountain and as a vampire (this may change in later films, however). Why Broken Tooth Mountain? It refers to self-destruction. When we eat something, and it breaks our tooth, we have hurt ourselves in the act of having an appetite for something that we were unable to take in. The Master Vampire, likewise, committed an act of self-destruction in being turned to a vampire and being forced to inhabit that cave. On a slightly different note, let's discuss the folklore and tradition of vampires. There is a folklore and a tradition because vampires exist as an archetype of evil in the collective unconscious (as an embodiment of the devil) so everything the collective unconscious attributes to them helps society and people to understand what this evil is and how we can best protect ourselves. When Vlad goes to see the Master Vampire (as we shall call him from this point forward, or MV), the MV tells Vlad to take off his silver ring because it offends him, so Vlad hides it; silver hurting vampires has never been a part of vampire lore before (unless it's in one of the new TV shows I haven't seen) silver is what wards off werewolves because in Hebrew, the word "silver" sounds like the word for "Word," which Jesus is, so had the person listened to the Word of God, they would not have lived by their appetites and ransomed their inheritance as a child of God. Vald's ring, probably his wedding ring, is a sign of a covenant with God; Vlad didn't make his covenant with Mirena when they married, he made it with God, so that God would use her to help Vlad become a better Christian and attain heaven, and God would use Vlad in Mirena's life to help her become a better Christian and help her attain heaven; that's not quite what worked out, is it? But that they entered into this covenant is evidenced by the holy ring (which was most likely blessed) and the MV knows Vlad can't enter into a covenant with him if he's conscious of his covenant with God, so the MV makes Vlad put it out of sight so Vlad won't think of God. Later, when Mirena wakes Vlad up and the silver ring is burning a hole through his flesh over his heart, it's because his soul knows that he has betrayed God and his wife and the blessing of the ring and what it means in their marriage and as a sign of his covenant with God, is burning through Vlad's heart in an attempt to get him to pray and cast off the MV.
Politically, Vlad is weakened by the silver he pays Mehmed because it allowed Mehmed to grow strong and kept Vlad from being able to create his own army to protect his people from the Turks, so Vlad is reminded of this when he fights Mehmed and the silver he paid is everywhere. Secondly, and more importantly, the word "silver" in Hebrew sounds like the Hebrew word for "Word," which is what Jesus Christ is, the Word of God (and why His Body is usually depicted in silver upon Crucifixes). Traditionally, silver is used against werewolves, because they failed to heed the "Word Of God" (the examples and teachings of Christ) so they permitted themselves to be consumed by their lust and they live like an animal, so they turn into an animal, instead of living like a child of God, and the silver reminds them of their crime of free will. So Vlad gave that (the money and the problems he faced) which should have been given to Christ, to the Muslims instead, and this is Vlad's fatal error because it almost kills him in the end. Vlad is a Christian but not a devout Christian, which leads us to our next point.
Mehmed wears the gold armor because earthly gold is what he values, not spiritual riches and wisdom; again, we will probably see this dichotomy in Exodus with Ramses. 
On the second day of carrying his vampire power, Vlad knows he is weak and could possibly succumb to drinking blood, so he goes to the chapel and prays, earnestly asking God: "If you have not abandoned me, please grant me your strength to resist" and then Ingeras comes in with the loaf of bread. What happens in this scene? Vlad prays to God and God answers his prayer: Vlad is given the strength not to succumb to drinking blood (Mirena has to tell him several times to do it at the end and he won't, until he does). Vlad, however, has all ready lost because he failed to go to God in the beginning: had Vlad gone to God and prayed for his negotiations with Mehmed to go well, they probably would have, and some other arrangement could have been reached; but Vlad, instead of going to God, goes to the devil and this is bad for at least two reasons.
Just last week, we saw the horror film Annabelle and what was the conflict about in that film? Because the mother Mia considered her baby to be her baby, and not God's baby, the devil tried to get the baby's soul; in Dracula Untold, the devil Mehmed wants to take Vlad's son, but because Vlad won't give his son to God, but is keeping him for himself, Vlad--like Mia nearly does in Annabelle--gives his soul to the devil to save his child, instead of letting God protect the child. Why would two such different films have nearly identical themes? Socialists believe children belong to the government because when they grow up, they will serve the government, therefore, the government knows best how to raise them; Christians believe that children belong to God, because God is the bestower of life, and we are all called to serve Him, so we are to be taught His Ways so we can fulfill our destiny in Him. When Vlad finally goes to the Church and prays, his son comes in and says that he knows Vlad is sick and offers him bread, which is symbolic of the offering of the Eucharist--Jesus is the Divine Physician who knows all of our ills and how to heal us--but Vlad doesn't take any; this incredible lesson that even Ingeras understands has completely escaped Vlad's understanding to the ruin of him. 
First, you can never win a deal with the devil unless you are divinely saved (I believe it's in The Glories Of Mary that Saint Alphonsus Ligguori wrote of the man who had literally sold his soul to the devil and, later, became extremely repentant; he prayed, and Mary interceded on his behalf so he would be forgiven, even commanding the devil to bring her the document the man had signed so she could destroy it). Secondly, if you do not go to God in faith with your problems what, then, is the difference between the Christians and the Muslims? We might as well be Muslims, too, if we are not going to live out the teachings of God. This leads us to the next two questions: what is the nature of the power Vlad gets (and the agreement he enters into) and why is it Mirena, the image of Christianity in the film, who tells Vlad to drink her blood?
First, the power.
Again, this scene is invoking 300 when Leonides visits the Ephors but they have sold him out to the Persians, forcing Leonides to march to his death. In this scene, Vlad wears a red cape like Leonides and the Spartans; why? Because for Spartans, they prove their love of Sparta in their willingness to shed their red blood for their homeland; Vlad is cloaked in his love for his family and homeland, but also in his anger at Mehmed for putting him in this position, so much so, that Vlad is willing to shed Mehmed's red blood to appease his anger (we saw another "angry" character wearing red, and that was Mila Kunis' character in Oz the Great and Powerful).  This "temple entrance" we see reminds us Christians that we and Vlad are temples, and we are meant to stay pure and holy so God will enter into us, not so we can go and enter into some forsaken place like what Vlad is about to do which he is doing because he has not allowed God to enter him, but Vlad will let the MV (or the devil, as the case maybe). The facade is designed like a church to emphasize, again, where Vlad is not going.
In the film, the vampire is referred to as only that, "the vampire," there is no name or history given, even though there is identification in the screenplay that has gotten out in reports. For whatever reason, the film makers chose not to align the identity of the Master Vampire with the Roman Emperor Caligula, whom the screenplay describes him as being. This is probably a master stroke, because making the identity ambiguous expands his evil deed from being limited to the realm of politics (if they made him be the emperor) to him being any one of us that, in our own mundane lives, might enter into the same, fatal mistake to get ahead ourselves.
When Vlad enters the vampire's lair, the MV tells Vlad that most men smell like fear, but Vlad smells like hope, and he doesn't understand why Vlad climbed out of his coffin with hope? This might be a reminder of Van Helsing, when Dracula tells Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) that he can hear men's heart beating so fast he could dance to it, but Van Helsing's heart beat is slow and steady. Why does the MV drag his nails across the sword like this? First of all, because Vlad has only the sword, but MV has ten nails, so just like with Mehmed, the MV outnumbers/out-weapons Vlad, The long, pointed nails are unnatural. Hands symbolize strength, and since the unnaturally long and sharp nails are a part of the hand, we can characterize the MV's power also as unnatural, which isn't that big of a deal, until the end when we see him tapping them on the table and he wears a business suit, suggesting that the MV still retains at least some degree of his unnatural powers (besides the fact that he is still alive). After Vlad drinks the blood and dies, when he has woken up in the stream, Vlad sees the spider wrapping up an insect that has flown into its web, and this is prophetic of Vlad, because we see spiders in the MV lair, so he's associated with them, and Vlad is but a bug to the MV who, like the spider, has Vlad all ready wrapped up in his web of power (this is like Bilbo Baggins who is wrapped up like a spider in The Hobbit and Frodo in The Lord Of the Rings). When Vlad wakes up, he's in the running water. According to legend, vampires cannot go near running water because running water is the purest water and is like the Sacrament of Baptism, so Vlad waking up here means that he is not yet a vampire. It may also be a play on his wife's name: Mirena sounds like "marina," or water, and she is supposed to be like the cleansing waters of Baptism for her husband but, once she can no longer keep her eyes on God, she instead washes her husband with her blood instead of her cleansing water (the amniotic sac that breaks when the child is being born, she should help Vlad be re-born in Christ, rather than giving him her blood so he can be born into darkness). 
What is the power Vlad receives? The power of darkness. It's possible, with all the vampire TV shows, that I am going to miss a reference here, and if that be the case, I do apologize. In film, there really isn't any reference to a mortal drinking a vampire's blood unless it is to turn someone into a vampire immediately, as in Interview With the Vampire (Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt); being able to "temporarily" turn someone into a vampire isn't something I have encountered previously, unless it's from Vampire Academy, or something like that. Anyway, we have to ask, exactly what is it about this bargain that appeals to Vlad more than going to Church and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and being invested with the powers of Christ, the power of light? Why drink the blood of a dirty old vampire, when you can drink the Blood of God?
Original Sin.
In this scene, the MV takes a cup out of the floor filled with blood for Vlad to drink from, but that's not how it happens in the film, but it does remind us of the Holy Grail, and the cup filled with Christ's Blood that we are called to drink from. Why do vampires bite their wrist to give their blood to another? Again, the hand--which the wrist is considered to be part of--symbolizes strength, so the vampire feeds another from their strength/darkness, which is the opposite of Christ, who gave us His Body and Blood in His weakness upon the Cross. 
None of us like this, but we have to advance in our spirituality or we won't get to heaven, and the only way for us to advance is by becoming more like God. This is Vlad's test to choose God over evil, and he fails. Again, we have all ready seen that Vlad prayed and that prayer was answered, God had not abandoned him nor allowed Vlad to drink human blood (due to the power of the thirst) but Vald didn't trust Him to put the entire situation in His hands; why not? Vlad might not have liked the Lord's answer.
In this scene, Ingeras was with his mother but, seeing his father and worried about what was going to happen, he has run up to him and confidently told his father that he will go with the Turks and be their hostage. Why would Ingeras do this? Grace. Only Grace can prompt us to lay down our lives for another, and Ingeras' faith in God is strong, because Ingeras knows that if God took care of his father when his father was forced to go through his slavery, God will take care of Ingeras, and Ingeras doesn't know what it is that God wants of him, but Ingeras has said, "Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will," not my own will. Vlad and Mirena, however, are stopping God's Grace. Let me pause for a moment. This is art, so it's absolute, I do not have children myself, but if I did, I would fight tooth and nail for them to not have to go either, regardless of whether that is right or wrong. Having said that, Mirena and Vlad refuse to let God do His Work so this is the moment Vlad tells Ingeras to go back to his mother, in other words, Vlad tells Ingeras, go back to your earthly mother, not on to your heavenly father, and I will go and become the son of the devil so you don't have to go. This is a hard lesson, I don't remember the last time I heard such difficult sermons in Church, but because so few people go to Church anymore, films like Annabelle and Dracula Untold have to teach us the lessons we would be learning--and even know by heart--otherwise.
In the scene above, two important events happen, Ingeras volunteers to go with the Turks (discussed above) and, secondly, Vlad kills all the envoys with their sword. Having dropped his sword on the road behind him (and we should definitely read this symbolically that Vlad intentionally wanted to leave "the sword" and its way of life behind him on his life's journey) Vlad then takes the sword of the envoy and kills several men with it, meaning that, Vlad is going to use their own weapons against them, literally. They have conquered by becoming monsters so he will conquer them by becoming a monster, the problem is, that's not a successful equation. Great evil can only be overcome by great good or we will be overcome by that great evil as well: Vlad cannot be the "protector of innocents" if he has lost his own innocence; if we deal with the devil then, like Vlad, we become the son of the devil, which leads us to the next point.
That's quite a bit of blood to drink, especially the blood of a vampire, but he doesn't spit it out, nor does he stop drinking it. This suggests that Vlad is all ready a vampire, and that's one of the reasons why he went to Broken Tooth Mountain, instead of to the monastery to pray. We saw this concept, again, in Annabelle from last week with the little girl Annabelle Higgins when she appears to Mia (in her Satanic wedding gown), suggesting that--for whatever reason or circumstance--little Annabelle was all ready on the road to becoming a Satanist and we can see it in Vlad, as well that, he who would impale others might become impaleable himself (when Mehmet tries to stab him with the wooden stake in the heart). A second aspect of this scene is that Vlad drinks from the crushed skull of one of the Master Vampire's victims. It's not as if Vlad is making an educated guess that, perhaps he will be able to overcome the Master Vampire's game and come out on top, the evidence of the Master Vampire's strength, cunning and perfect record of defeating any and all who come against him is lying all around on the floor in the form of crushed bones and skulls. After drinking the blood, Vlad asks, "Now what?" and the Master Vampire replies, "You die." This truly is tragic because we are supposed to die to the world and live in Christ, so really, there is no difference at all in the bargain that Vlad is willing to make except who he makes it with and how much he's going to regret it.
As we said at the beginning of the post, this isn't a historical film: we are being invited to watch what Vlad did when he was faced with the problem that America is being faced with today (and England, and France, Russia and pretty much the entire world) specifically, that the world's Muslim population has become hostile to every human being and intends on taking us over. We see this expressed in two ways in the film: first, when Vlad goes to negotiate and Mehmet and he refuses Vlad's offer of his own self, one of Vlad's men says that someday, the Muslim tents will be everywhere; the second time is when, towards the end, the "old goat" wise man that had been Vlad's teacher but is now a vampire, answers Vlad, "I used to think there were too many of them," but now that he wants to drink there blood, there is not enough.
The curtain was a favored symbolic device during the medieval era: whenever there was one in an illuminated manuscript, for example, it meant that some darkness was being pushed aside and light was coming in (it was very common for the Hand of the Holy Spirit to be the one pushing the curtain allowing Light to come in). This is exactly what has happened in this scene: Mirena has asked Vlad what is wrong with him, and to demonstrate what he has done, he pushes the curtain aside, so she can see with the "Divine Light of Illumination" what it is exactly that Vlad has done. If this is what is happening to Vlad's physical body--disintegration--what terror is happening to his soul? Mirena, however, is really no more advanced than Vlad, and fearing for her husband, but even more for their son, she goes along with what he has done. 
Were the people right in wanting to kill Vlad?
To begin with, Vlad's agreement to pay tribute to Mehmet was the "first step" towards making the deal with the devil (the Master Vampire) because, again, it kept Vlad from being able to raise an army to defend his people (and make no mistake about it, the film is clear that, because they cannot protect themselves, they are at the mercy of Mehmet, so this is strongly supporting the 2nd Amendment) but also because Vlad turned to the devil instead of God for help; in making his deal with the devil, he risked the souls of the entire community--as we see this clearly when Vlad turns his people who are dying into vampires to help him defeat Mehmet after drinking Merina's blood because they would not have been damned had it not been for him bringing them that power--so Vlad has spread the devil among them. What choice was really left for Vlad?
Father Lucien (which is Latin for "light" as opposed to the darkness to which Vlad sells himself), the priest holding Ingeras, has bravely taken a Crucifix and waded into a circle of vampires getting ready to feast on Ingeras and Vlad; Vlad has told Ingeras to go with Father Lucien and to stay by his side always, so that Lucien will grow up in the Church, and not on the wayward path he himself has taken. If you will notice, Ingeras' and Lucien's hairstyles are almost exactly alike, light hair that's kind of long and wavy: the light hair means they are not burdened by dark thoughts, like Vlad the Lord Impaler; the longer hair signifies that they think things through (like Lucien noticing that Vlad was avoiding daylight and realizing he had turned into a vampire; or Ingeras offering himself as the royal hostage) and the waves in their hair symbolize the understanding they have of the repercussions of their actions, (Lucien that Vlad must be killed or he will bring the devil's curse upon them all, which is what happens, and Ingeras that by offering himself as a royal hostage, he will be following in the Will of God because he would be following in God's own footsteps when Jesus offered Himself as a hostage). 
Again, he should not have appeased the Turks with "tribute" payments, and he should have gone to God for help, and Vlad validates that when, towards the end, he tells Ingeras to go with Father Lucien, not only to save his soul immediately, but also so his son doesn't make the same mistake he did, which is why he allows his son to see him being disintegrated by the sun and die (please see the caption above for more on this topic). The future, in other words, belongs with the one who initially tried to kill Vlad, Father Lucien, and it is from his wisdom that Ingeras "drinks" and not his father's. So, given all the bad things that happen, why did Mirena press Vlad to drink her blood and why did he do it?
THIS IS IMPORTANT: as stated at the beginning, the Turks force Mirena over the edge of the cliff (force America over the edge of the fiscal cliff) and take Ingeras (take control of America's future). Vlad sees her fall but his powers go just as she hits the ground; in spite of her fall, she is still alive along enough to argue with him about drinking her blood. Again, this is another example of how Mirena is all ready dead when she hits the rocks, because she is dead in her faith. She doesn't believe that God will have mercy on them, she doesn't put her faith in God's Promise, but her husband's promise when they married. Instead of husband and wife supporting each other and being an encouragement to one another, they have appeased evil all their lives and now it has caught up with them and there is not sufficient light for them to find their way.
Mirena was wrong to press Vlad to drink her blood; why? Because she symbolizes the motherland, and we sacrifice our blood for the motherland, to keep and preserve it, it doesn't sacrifice it's blood for us; her pressing Vlad to drink her blood, means that he is eternally cursed, instead of Vlad drinking the blood of Christ and being eternally blessed; in her dying moment, she thinks only of her son, not the Son, so now her own sin has spread to Vlad and Ingeras and those seven or eight people who are dying, but are turned into vampires by Vlad so that they die in sin rather than going to heaven. Mirena's Christianity started to waver the moment Vlad revealed to her what he had done because then her focus shifted to him and his power to do, rather than trusting in God to save and protect; as such, she was unable to be a source of encouragement for her husband and instead became the instrument of his damnation.
Like Vlad disappearing in this cinemagraph, so Vlad's legacy has disappeared as well. All we remember about Count Dracula is "son of the devil," and blood drinking, not his heroic act of holding off the Turkish invasion and saving us all from having to become Muslim. His wearing the armor of the dragon, a relic from his past that he told his son he hoped he would "never need again," but he has put on instead of putting on "the armor of Christ," to protect him and show him the path to take.
Vlad drinking the blood of his wife is, again, taking the blood of the motherland, rather than sacrificing his blood for the motherland which is why the vampires at the end turn on him: one act of violence, one allowance, sets a chain of other allowances in motion that could back-fire and destroy the whole system. Once you start feeding on "the motherland," you are always corrupt, instead of those who give to the motherland, and they are pure. The mutiny of the other vampires demonstrates the evil of the power Vlad has given himself to and the danger he faces, not just in his death by incineration which he causes, but after he has been "resurrected" by his servile servant--had Vlad been the servant of God, he would not have this evil little servant for himself--he faces an even greater evil, which leads us to the final point: the game.
There is a popular story of Gaius Popillius Laenas, a Roman senator who was sent on behalf of Rome to keep war from breaking out in Egypt. The old man, all by himself, walked out in front of the advancing enemy army and, with his staff, drew a line in the sand and told the enemy commander, if you cross this line, you are at war with Rome. After careful thought for a few moments, the commander turned his army around and went back home, demonstrating the might and power of Rome in just one old man being able to turn back an entire army with nothing but a stick (the actual account is slightly different, popular culture embellishing it) but in this scene, and a few other scenes where Vlad goes out to meet the overwhelming Turkish force on his own, I kept thinking of this story. In this scene, it's supposed to be noon, with full daylight, but Vlad has completely blocked out the light of day, demonstrating how dark his own soul has become by how dark he has made the sky.
Before Vlad drinks the Master Vampire's blood, the MV takes time to explain to Vlad exactly what he is going to do: "I will call upon you," and use you against him who turned me, the MV tells Vlad, who refuses to play the game. "Light versus darkness, hope versus despair," all of the world's fate hangs in the balance; Vlad drinks and then the MV says, "Let the games begin," because he knows he has all ready won but also because that is what Bane (Tom Hardy) says in The Dark Knight Rises when he blows up the football stadium, so the MV is being compared to a hostile socialist figure (please see War & Revolution: The Dark Knight Rises for more). He says the same when, at the end, Vlad "finds" Mirena again; why? Vlad is repeating his mistake by getting involved with the woman who went against God's Grace (in answer to Vlad's prayer not to drink blood) and pushed Vlad into damnation. Their sin is that they put earthly love above Divine Love, which is why they are the puppets of the Master Vampire, and they will make the same mistakes again.
Here is the great question: is it power to be able to crush your enemies, or is it power to be able to discipline yourself? The wise always vote in favor of disciplining yourself because you are then in control in every situation. Why does Vlad run into "Mirena" again at the end of the film? This isn't re-incarnation, rather, this is how they are demonstrating to the audience that HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF, and that we have to pay attention to what is happening, because if we don't, we are going to make the exact same mistake that Vlad has made. If, by trying to save the US and we enter into a revolution, whatever we do that may break the law, will make it that much more difficult to re-establish the government and people's faith in government. 
So, in conclusion, the mistakes made in the history of the narrative are being re-enacted for us so we don't make the mistakes they made, we don't sell our souls to the devil for the kind of illusory power Vlad took for himself, but we also realize that everything in this world belongs to God: from our very self, to everything we have, and to those we love the most, and that He loves what He has created more than we ever could, so He always does that which is best, especially when it doesn't seem like it. As reported earlier this week, Dracula Untold is the first of the Universal Studios' re-creating of their classic monsters; the next film they are working on is The Mummy, slated for release in 2016, for which they have recruited the screenwriters from Fast and Furious 6 and Star Trek Into Darkness; there is also Van Helsing that the Universal is remaking, slated for 2016 as well, with the writers of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness writing and directing; in other words, it should be pretty amazing and very pro-capitalist!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Without a doubt, at the end, when he wears a business suit, he definitely reminded me of George Soros, and I think we can expect that kind of a "unifying" villain in the rest of the films, after all, he's no different than Lex Luthor of Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice.