Prof. Westengard | O628 | Fall 2022

Blog 8


Two major things were happening in the United States at the time that the 1931 Dracula film was made and released. First, throughout the 1920s, society was changing and becoming more progressive. For example, there was a movement of young women called flappers who disregarded social and gender norms by wearing clothing like short skirts, cutting their hair shorter, and listening and dancing to music like jazz. This is significant because the story of Dracula is quite brutal and explicit. Especially by the standards of early American society, the idea of a visualization of a vampire taking advantage of young women to bite them and suck their blood, and his victims becoming rabid slaves eating rats was unheard of at the time. This kind of movie, even the 1931 Dracula film that was heavily toned down compared to the original story, could only be seen as acceptable with the changing views and beliefs of the progressive movement of the 1920s. In addition to American society becoming more progressive, the 1920s saw a massive economic boom leading into the end of the 1920s and beginning of the 1930s which marked the beginning of the Great Depression as a result of a stock market crash caused by greed and speculation, among other things. Quality of life deteriorated greatly as unemployment skyrocketed, and the progressive and optimistic society of the 1920s became hopeless. Dracula was a new experience, dark and scary, reflecting the mood of the times. Dracula himself could also be seen as a metaphor for the robber barons and speculators that were perceived as the cause of the Great Depression and suffering people were experiencing.

1 Comment

  1. Laura Westengard

    Nice research, Adelisa! I’m interested in the connection you point out between the gore of the film and the progress around women’s rights during the 1920s. What do you think the film was trying to communicate with this choice?

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