I have watched countless vampire movies and series, some forty of which are related to the legendary Count Dracula, and at least ten are direct adaptations of the famous novel by Bram Stoker. When you watch the same story in too many films that differ only in nuances, that story gets pretty boring and the movie has to be really good to stand out from the bunch and make an impression. John Badham's "Dracula" from 1979, the year that produced a dozen films on the subject, is one of the most impressionable.
The film is inspired by the Broadway show and is one of the most faithful adaptations of the novel, but it stands out from the mass of similar ones because of its slightly different approach that puts style before the scares. While most of the "Dracula" adaptations belong to the horror genre, with a few exceptions that turn the story into a thriller or a comedy, this movie is a drama with a touch of romance, in which the horror elements are present only to the extent necessary to comply with the original story.
Badham wanted to shoot it in black and white, but Universal Pictures insisted on Technicolor. The compromise solution was a color film in which prevail black, white and gray, with occasional use of muted warm colors, so the atmosphere is similar to what a black and white film would have. Personally, I don't think it could have turned out any better. Excellent photography and directing focus more on the beauty of the shot than on the horror effect, and this sight for sore eyes is accompanied by original music by John Williams, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It should be noted that Williams has been nominated for an Oscar nearly forty times, of which he has won five, for the films "Fiddler on the Roof", "Jaws", "E.T.", "Star Wars" and "Schindler's List", and is also known for music for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Superman," "Indiana Jones," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Home Alone," "JFK," "Amistad," "Saving Private Ryan," "AI," "Harry Potter "and many others.
Dracula is played by Frank Langella, who also played The Count in the Broadway show that inspired the film. Unlike his predecessors, he refused to portray Dracula as a bloodthirsty monster, refused to wear artificial fangs and shoot scenes of bloody teeth, but instead portrayed the Count as an elegant nobleman, gentleman and seducer, and his relationship with Lucy (the names Mina and Lucy are reversed in this adaptation) is not a relationship of predator and victim, but a romance similar to those of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Kate Nelligan excellently portrayed the role of Lucy, her father is played by Donald Pleasence (Dr. Loomis from the "Halloween" franchise ), Mina Van Helsing is played by Jan Francis, and Prof. Abraham Van Helsing by the legendary Laurence Olivier.
A must-watch for Dracula fans, but also a warm recommendation to anyone who loves cinema with style, black-and-white film, and old-school Hollywood romance, whether or not you have a fondness for the horror genre.
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