Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Dr. Abraham Van Helsing

Every Genre has its heavy hitters, the characters that you have to eventually get around to if you’re talking about the best ones. This week we are looking at one my personal favourites, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

Although played well by Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Jackman, and others, for me, Van Helsing (in film) will always be Peter Cushing in the various Vampire films from Hammer in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

As a character, we know he’s probably of Dutch descent, but his language is peppered with German phrases. He is described by John Seward (a former pupil of his in the novel Dracula) as

“... a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy"

Throughout the Hammer Horror films, Van Helsing is shown to be both terribly driven to defeat evil (his destruction of the vampire in The Brides of Dracula is possibly my favourite vampire kill on screen) as well as kind hearted.

In the end he is exactly the kind of person I would want between myself and anything the horror genre can throw at me.

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