This version of Dracula is closely based on Bram Stoker's classic novel. Young barrister 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
When Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is giving his lecture, he jokes that "civilization and syphilization have advanced together." This line is paraphrased from comments made by famous nineteenth century Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, author of Psychopathia Sexualis, one of the first medical works to scientifically explore topics like sadism, masochism, and homosexuality. See more »
In the prologue when Dracula returns to find Elisabeta's dead body she is seen as completely dry with her hair still permed and still wearing her crown, though the surrounding floor around her seems to be wet. The only real evidence of her traumatic jump into the river to her death is the trickle of blood from her mouth and wrist. See more »
[about the wolves that are howling]
Listen to them: the children of the night. What sweet music they make.
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In 1995, a heavily censored version of the film was broadcast on FOX, garnering much criticism from fans and critics alike, not to mention Francis Ford Coppola himself. Some of the more obvious cuts involve:
the character of Renfield is removed entirely
the Brides are wearing rags instead of being topless
the scene when Dracula gives the brides the baby is gone
there are no close ups from Arabian Nights
Lucy's comments about sexuality during her introductory scene are removed
the kiss between Mina and Lucy in the maze is gone
all shots of the Demeter are gone
all shots of Dracula howling as the wolf creature are gone
the shot of Dracula 'raping' Lucy is gone, and in the close up, Lucy's breast is no longer exposed
indeed, Lucy's breasts are seen several times in the uncut film, but in all such cases here, the shot has been altered to remove them and make it look like her clothes aren't actually ripped
the destruction of Lucy's body by Van Helsing is gone
Van Helsing's exorcism of Carfax Abbey is shortened
Mina drinking from Dracula's heart is considerably shortened
when Mina slams the sword through Dracula's chest at the end, the shot of it coming out his back and sticking into the floor is gone.
Visually striking, but Coppola's storytelling eccentricities are ill suited for the story itself
"Apocalypse Now" worked due to its hazy, surreal vision of a hellish world. Coppola returned thirteen years later and created a similarly haunting and poetic so-called "masterpiece," a supposed truthful adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula tale - when, in fact, the truth is that this movie is no more faithful to Stoker than the (superior) Universal Pictures original.
The hazy film-making is visually satisfying, and some of the special effects are - simply put - amazing. Coppola's backlighting and use of shadows is creative and unique. But, unfortunately, after a while his emphasis on style over content begins to eat away at the film's other strengths - the relationship between the heroine (Winona Ryder) and Dracula (Gary Oldman) is weak. Many story links are completely nonsensical and people appear and disappear at whimsy. The heroine's fiancée (Keanu Reeves) writes to her from Transylvania, asking her to depart at once to marry him; in a matter of one or two scenes she has suddenly traveled a vast distance and is standing at the alter prepared to wed. It seems like Coppola loses a grip on his characters and plotting very early on.
Oldman gives a chilling performance but isn't given very much to do, because he's set aside and the special effects take over. The opening scenes of his battle and his motivation to become the King of the Undead is very enthralling - if Coppola had maintained this mixture of style and content the movie would have been far better.
The casting of the weak Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in leading roles harms the impact of the film as well. Reeves sounds like a Californian pothead imitating a Brit; Ryder treats the material as if it is a dramatic, over-the-top theatre rendition; every line she speaks is sickeningly cheesy.
Anthony Hopkins turns in a disappointing performance as the utterly forgettable Van Helsing, who is given very little to do in this particular film apart from show up when convenient and sprout fancy little one-liners, most of them dramatic closers to scenes (e.g. "We are dealing with a demon!", then a cut-away to another scene.) Overall, "Dracula" is a good film and is worth seeing for its visuals alone. It is not, however, the strongest adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel; given the hype surrounding its release in 1992, the completed effort is rather lackluster in the story department.
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