On November 30, 2022 the SinaiFree Film Society hosted a lively conversation about the classic novel and film starring Bela Lugosi. We explored issues such as:

  • Does Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel incorporate antisemitic tropes, such as the blood libel and a fear of outsiders from Eastern Europe? Dracula, a stranger from the East, comes to London at a time of social unrest.
  • Does the 1931 film contain images or dialogue that could be interpreted as antisemitic?
  • What role do “invasion stories” and fear of the outsider play in reflecting – or contributing to – racism and antisemitism?
  • What parallels do we see between Victorian England, the world in 1931, and today’s social and political climate?
  • Is there a difference between casual and deep-rooted racism and antisemitism – and does it matter?

We put together a number of articles and images to stimulate that conversation and subsequent ones:

  • Themes to explore. You may think of others! Feel free to follow as many of the links as you like.
  • A few slides to summarize the above materials and spark additional questions.
  • A physical description of Dracula from the novel.
  • Letters from Bela Lugosi pleading for help from the U.S. government in resettling 320 Hungarian Jews in 1944. Lugosi was president of the Hungarian-American Council for Democracy, which actively worked to help the Jews of Hungary.
  • Letters from Carl Laemmle to Secretary of State Cordell Hull desperately seeking help for the rescue of German Jews.  Laemmle, a German Jewish émigré, founded Universal Pictures, which produced and released Dracula.

If needed, you can enlarge each document on your screen.

For more information about the Film Society, contact Joel Wald at waldspeak@gmail.com.