THis week, the trailer for "Dracula:Untold" has aired, so I decided to treat myself with Bram Stoker's Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola.
This version of Dracula is closely based on Bram Stoker's classic novel
of the same name. A young lawyer (Jonathan Harker) is assigned to a
gloomy village in the mists of eastern Europe. He is captured and
imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula, who travels to London,
inspired by a photograph of Harker's betrothed, Mina Murray. In Britain,
Dracula begins a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from
Mina's closest friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy's friends gather together to
try to drive Dracula away. Written by
Gary Oldman as Dracula
Winona Ryder as Wilhemina Murray Harker
Anthony Hopkins As Dr Abraham Van Helsing
Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker
Tom Waits as Reinfield!
Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra
Carie Elwes as Quincy P Morris
Evertthing starts in 1462. One of the first sequences of the movie, which is treated like a shadow puppet theater, on a red blood sky. This scene is so graphic and cleverly made, it takes away some of the violence, because as you guess, you see Vlad tepes Impaling a man during war. Every time I saw this movie , I was thinking it reminded me of Mike Mignola's work , for its statues and really sharp shadows.
Until one day, when looking absent mindedly the end credits, I discovered Mike Mignola had worked as an illustrator on the movie, and also the comic book adapted from it. My mind was blown!
The story itself is really closely inspired by the original novel by Bram Stoker. There are some changes, like for example Mina Being the reincarnation of Elizabeta, Dracula's wife .
About Dracula's appearance, I love the different phases Oldman goes through. From livid with victory rolls alike hairdo, robed into a crimson kimono richly embroidered. He is decayed and terrifying, he has a snake like appearance.
I love how is shadow is so important in the movie. You can see it prey on Jonathan Harker, and also on Mina and Lucy during the party.
He is a wolf like creature, after the shipwreck, when he rapes and bites Lucy Westenra.
When he moves to London, his appearance changes to that of a thin youthful man, with a sharply cut victorian suit. He also adorns a top hat, and to add to his strange appearance, he has long curly hair and blue sunglasses. He becomes all seduction, and then says the words "See me now" to Mina Murray (hence ending the hyptonic transe he started when he was raping Lucy).
Mina is a character I can sometimes find annoying, but as soon as she comes to meet Dracula , she takes some depth. As her memories from her previous life re-emerge, a lingering sensuality develops between her and the Prince Vlad. I still find she becomes much more interested when she discovers he is a prince hehe ;) ( an Elizabeth Bennett Syndrom?)
I can kind of understand she falls for Dracula, who is voluptuous and much more tactile than Harker.
You can notice it in that scene where the wolves comes to the cinematograph, and where their hands intertwine in the wolf's white furr.
Harker (Keanu Reeves) is a character which does not catch any sympathy, he is maybe the most boring of all. He has a certain kind of coldness , and maybe is he a bit too perfect (even if he had a very special time with the three brides of Dracula).
Reinfield (Tom Waits) is impeccable, he brings the creepiest out of that character, all in subtelty. the scenes in the asylum are grimy, and the blue lighting effects, with strong shadows, are really stricking! He becomes a subject of study to Jack Seward, who tries to decipher his violen habits, but also his peculiar food tastes.
The seduction and erotism play such a big part in this movie. The colours show it vividly, alternating for dark blue/grey/greens, to bright red.
Bright red you find in that scene where Dracula and Mina drink Absinthe. Her dress is luxuriously red as blood, when before she used to be dressed up in light colours in the cold hue.
Even if Dracula admits to Mina that he killed Lucy, her best friend, she cannot help but love him, and give in to him in such an abandon ("Take me away from all this death").
The rest of the events will be a fight against time to avoid Mina's transformation. Lucy's ex suitors will team with Harker and Van Helsing to save her from turning too....
I don't want to give away too much details, as to me it would ruin the movie.
I think this movie is really incredible. i love the fact that Coppola decided to use traditional special effects, instead of going CGI. He worked in a very traditional way, and I think this is what gives that movie such a soul.
The storyboard artist Peter Ramsey created was inspired by classical art.
Special mention for Eiko Ishioka (who sadly passed away). She was the costumer, and largely contributed to the shape of the characters. Her costumes were like jewels.
Her Dracula's armour is as if made of red muscles. It makes Dracula's appearance terribly menacing and impressive.
I recommend warmly the 15th anniversary dvd, as there are bonuses about the movie's making off, it's a real treat. The cover itself is regal, with a splendid photo of Dracula in his red kimono.
What did you think of that movie? I think this is one of the movies people love or hate...