Filmmakers in Eastern and Central Europe don’t seem to want to deal with the obvious horror theme. You can find “Dracula’s” castle packed with tourists, but the real Vlad Tepes was only there for two days. (Perhaps he stopped by to get a souvenir and then left in frustration because it was so crowded).
Some people don’t even know that Transylvania is a real place, or that it is part of Roumania. In the GI Joe Episode where Cobra looks for the most evil people around to create a new super villain, they don’t go to Roumania, but the terrorist group goes to Transylvania. (every other country seems to be mentioned by name).
Vampires, wolf men, and other horror characters have created a stereotype of the evil half within. But the inner, other self has not always been seen as evil.
The idea that we all have a hidden person inside of us has been illustrated in philosophies and religions since ancient times. (Jung, 1997) This hidden part of the psyche might be a dark side, but it might just be a balance, or repressed feelings. (ibid, 1987)
Generally in popular culture, this inner other is an evil twin. Comics are known to have alter egos, but Marvel Comics seems to enjoy creating an evil twin of almost every character, one of the most famous being when Venom appears in the Spiderman comics. (DeFalco & Stern, 1984) And this character explores Peter Parker’s selfish side in the third Spiderman film.
But sometimes, this other half of the personality is shown as necessary. In the episode where Captain Kirk is divided in two, Kirk is shown as unable to function as a commander without his evil half. (Matheson, 1966)
A similar way of treating an inner self is by having a character meet his or her ancestors, or perhaps change places with another character. One of the funniest examples here is Les Visiteurs, a French film where a medieval peasant is faced with his very successful descendent, and the two are confused.
In a Romanian film, the most recent idea of an inner personality was shown as a mental illness. (Scara, 2019) This film was a backdrop of the time around the revolution and violent protests afterwards, and wasn’t very good. But it does serve to show the changing attitude that people have toward inner personalities.
In Hungary, the idea of an inner other has also been used to show mental duress, but it is not dismissed as mental illness. When her mountain climbing husband dies, we follow an imagined version of her husband, seeing multiple versions of the dead man as the main character’s hopes of his return and her. Here the heroine’s struggle is shown as a metaphor for everyone’s struggle with grief, but on a larger scale. (Csoma, 2022)
Jung, C. G. (1997). Man & His Symbols. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.
Matheson, R. (1966, October 6). The Enemy Within. Star Trek (the original Series). episode, NBC.
DeFalco, T., & Stern, R. (1984, May). Homecoming. The Amazing Spider-Man, 1(252).
Csoma, S. (2022). Magasságok és mélységek. Juno11 Pictures.