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Film / Nadja

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Nadja is a 1994 film written and directed by Michael Almereyda.

The film opens in present-day New York. Professor Van Helsing (Peter Fonda) has at last succeeded in killing Dracula. Dracula's daughter, Nadja (Elina Löwensohn), comes to New York to reclaim her father's body, to check in on her twin brother Edgar (Jared Harris), and to try and figure out what to do with herself now that her domineering father is gone. Van Helsing, discovering that Dracula's body has gone missing, sets out in pursuit, with the reluctant assistance of his nephew Jim (Martin Donovan).

This film contains examples of:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: Nadja is slain, decapitated with her body cremated, but has hijacked Cassandra's body via a blood transfusion.
  • Bald of Evil: Cassandra slaps Nadja in the face, knocking off her wig and revealing a completely bald head underneath.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The entire film is in black and white, in homage to the early vampire movies. (It also allows Almereyda to interpolate some actual footage of Bela Lugosi at one point.)
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: After Nadja is injured but gets away, Edgar tries to figure out her location using Twin Telepathy, which causes him to revert to his native Romanian as he describes what he's picking up; Van Helsing provides a running translation for the others. Part of it goes like this:
    Edgar: [speaks in Romanian]
    Van Helsing: She's in an airplane.
    Edgar: [speaks in Romanian]
    Van Helsing: Dying.
    Edgar: [speaks in Romanian]
    Van Helsing: ...for a cigarette.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Nadja seems to be mainly attracted to women, including Jim's wife Lucy.
  • Meaningful Name: Lucy's role in the plot echoes that of Lucy Westenra in the original Dracula.
  • Mirror Scare: One of the indications that Nadja is (metaphorically) preying on Lucy's mind is a shot from Lucy's point of view as she watches Jim opening the bathroom medicine cabinet: as he opens it, Nadja seems to be reflected in the room behind them, but when he closes it again a moment later, she's gone. An interesting usage considering that the actual non-hallucinatory Nadja, being a vampire, doesn't have a reflection.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The word "fiend" is always used in place of "vampire".
  • Significant Double Casting: In the flashbacks where he's not being played by Stock Footage of Bela Lugosi, Dracula appears as a dim faceless figure who is played, like Van Helsing, by Peter Fonda.
  • Stock Footage: In a flashback, Dracula is represented by footage from an old Bela Lugosi film. (Interestingly, it's White Zombie rather than any of the times he played Dracula. Could be an artistic choice, could just be that White Zombie was easier to get the rights to.)
  • Twin Telepathy: Edgar is sometimes able to feel what Nadja is thinking and feeling.