Dracula Film Details
Overview: In 1913, the charming, seductive and sinister vampire Count Dracula travels to England in search of an immortal bride.
Tagline: Throughout history he has filled the hearts of men with terror, and the hearts of women with desire.
Review: Let me ramble a bit here: Personally I’m a bit offended when I hear people describe this version of Dracula as nothing more than an on screen Harlequin romance. One wonders if the individual speaking those words has ever read one of those trashy novels. What the director manages in this movie is to present us with, instead of a flat out gory horror movie, a psychological look into what is truly horrible. Here we have, for all intents and purposes, an alien -the last of his kind, so he says- desperately clinging to life. The viewer is intended to empathize with him. Even in his cool, refined, gentlemanly state there is a sense of Dracula’s urgency. He has to breed offspring (which, if you read pre-Stoker actual vampire lore is mentioned and common– not only could vampires have sex and reproduce, they could also reproduce with humans. In fact, one of the ways a male vampire could be spotted to be such would be opening the coffin and finding the corpse sprouting a “chubby”.) in whatever manner he can– he has to. His people are gone. In a way, this makes the human characters in the story more horrible than Dracula– it would be akin to the last tiger being hunted down for being a tiger and desperately attempting to make other tigers. It is this predatory vitality that Langella communicates beautifully in this film. All the other male characters are ineffectual, aged, insane, or duplicitous (Harker)– though they are not played badly, Dracula himself stands as sort of a dark mirror of them all– and yet with virtues none of the other males possess. In a way, the death of Dracula at the end is the death of the “primal man”. All that is left, in the wake, is the “modern man”– the duplicitous and shallow Harker… and the hope of the primal man’s return (the cape floating away on the wind). Lucy is right, Dracula is the saddest and kindest of all the men there. He could have murdered everyone and taken what he wanted (he demonstrates such powers that I can believe him to be completely able to do such a thing. He can slaughter an entire ship’s crew of healthy strapping men– how are lunatics, two old doctors and a solicitor going to stand up to him if he really wanted to kill them? He’s already been “invited”– he could have destroyed them all at any conceivable time…)– but he did not. He was a gentleman. It is this nobility, which none of the men (including Van Helsing– remember the line about sacrilege?) possess, that ends up destroying him. He gives them all chances to look the other way- he does not want to hurt them. In fact, the times Dracula kills in this movie are few. He kills to preserve his own existence (which all of us would do), to feed (which we all, again, do- even vegetarians), to change (enabling procreation, also important) and he kills those who betray him and endanger him (Renfield, the driver of the cart who was trying to slow the horses). No, I think the reason this selection doesn’t appeal to most isn’t the romance (though that is what’s usually blamed) — it is the uncomfortable feeling (put forth by the instances I described above) that Humanity holds the real monsters (for various reasons). And that brings us to Mina. Mina was not crazy and monstrous because she was a vampire. Nor was she crazed because she was already insane before being “tainted” like Renfield. Lucy and Dracula also prove to us that it is quite easy to be sane and be a vampire. Mina, at least in this version, appears to be insane because she awoke inside a coffin- in the dark and had to claw her way out. Anyone who has ever read an account of being entombed alive and then having to dig one’s way out knows that this can and does drive people to madness. How much worse would it be to suddenly discover, on top of that, that you are no longer human? —As far as her reflecting in water– vampires DO reflect in water according to folklore. They do not reflect in mirrors because, once upon a time, mirrors were actually “silvered” (a mixture of mercury and silver, if I remember correctly) and silver and undead do not mix well.– The double destruction (stake to paralyze, then heart removal) is also mentioned in folklore and is not unusual in the slightest. In all, I believe this needs to be taken as a psychological piece of social commentary more than a romance or a “true” adaptation of Stoker’s work (even then that’s up for grabs. I’ve read the book myself many times and my interpretation of it is quite different than what would be expected as ‘standard’). To call it a Harlequin Romance seems a blanket statement not at all suited for the overall depth of the piece– it is a work of horror, but I believe it is the horror for mankind’s destruction of its own sense of mystery rather than the campy gore slash fest normally associated with that title. I highly recommend it.
Language: English, Dutch, Romanian, Russian
Duration: 109 min
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance
Also known as: Drácula,Dracula,Drakula,吸血鬼,Дракула,Dracula 80,Dracula – Eine Love Story,Dracula ’79,Komis Drakoulas: Fygi ap’ ta Karpathia,ドラキュラ（1979）