Smithsonian Networks presents “The Vampire Princess”

Title: “The Vampire Princess”
Studio: Smithsonian Networks
Release Date: 10/14/2008
Genre: Documentary
Rating: 3.5/5

If you are a Horror fan and have never seen the original film “Dracula” or even its remake, then you need to stop reading now, take care of business and then return to be a little more up to speed on things. If you have then we can safely and easily continue because the Smithsonian Networks film “The Vampire Princess” discusses some of the potential histories that just might have led up to the inspiration behind the writing of this classic work of literature. From the moment it begins, this historical journey reminded me a lot of a show I grew up on entitled “In Search Of”; this was a great mystery meets documentary series hosted by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy. The premise of “The Vampire Princess” takes the view that instead of a man being the sinister player that “Dracula” was modeled after that it was instead done based on the life and hard fate that was experienced by a real 18th century bohemian princess by the name of Eleonore von Schwarzenberg. It is possible after all and when the viewer watches this film they might agree with me.

The film takes you to the castle of the princess and some recent excavations where three bodies had been uncovered. They were buried in an unusual manner for the time which was referred to as “Magia Pasthuma” – the ritual to prevent the dead from rising, or in this case “the undead”. I will leave the absolutely eerie facts about their actual findings to those who watch it to prevent being a spoiler. We also are taken back into the history of the princess who was a firm believer in a lot of mystical medicines and cures for illnesses. She was a strong advocate of legendary healing processes and even regularly drank the milk of wolves to guarantee her fertility and sire a male child. They take us on a journey into the castles vast historical archive where every event that ever took place had been written down and stored in books that make up an expansive library. I must admit that this would make for an interesting DVD of its own as they transfer the information onto the medium of today if they should ever undertake such an endeavor. The archives document the debilitating illness where she was literally wasting away and they take us up to her eventual death from it. We learn of the post mortem autopsy done by the medical staff and they said that such an involved practice was not common to the time and in the end it all just adds levels of strangeness to the tale of this tragic figure.

The archeologists bring us to the tomb of the princess which is far away from the rest of the members of the royal family final resting places and even stranger is the tomb itself. Apparently, Eleonore is not only buried in the regular casket, but covered by holy earth and covered in concrete. It seems as though the ruling factions of the region wanted to make sure that once she had died that she did not come back for an unwelcome visit. In the end the film leaves you with a number of questions but I always felt that “In Search Of” did the same thing and as result sparked ones curiosity about learning more when it came to the subject being discussed. If you are a fan of vampire legendry and other things that go bump in the night then this is a great way to spend an hour.

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