“We’ve all become God’s madmen, all of us.”
For one of my college classes we are reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In comparison with reading the book we also watched Francis Ford Coppola’s take on adapting the book to the big screen.
First let me state that I am not a fan of horror films, so I wasn’t exactly eager to watch this. On the other hand I love Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman as well as fan of Coppola. That being said that’s pretty much the only thing that made me like this movie.
I get that this was made in the early 90’s and that using some of the technology back than was a big deal. Sadly I think Coppola went a bit overboard. Bits and pieces were neat at first, but it got a little out of hand. I felt like Coppola wanted to make a romance film out of Dracula, which I understand. But the novel was considered a ‘horror’ novel and to live up to the myth that Stoker created Coppola seemed to randomly throw some cliché horror scenes to appease that audience. I didn’t really feel like he was all that interested in the ‘horror’ aspect of the story and it really shows in the film.
So to the romance plot now. It works. As far as Stoker’s story, it’s not really there, but Coppola makes it work, though again he throws in some clichés which are annoying. One thing Coppola did get right on this end though is the sex. Dracula and vampires in general are supposed to be these insane sex symbols and Coppola really runs with that. If there is a chance to add more sex to the film, than he does it. In some instances it’s a bit creepy and not all that erotic (the wolfman anyone?). Than of course you have that beautiful scene with Dracula and Mina finally making that “marriage/connection” which is shot beautifully.
For me though two things made this movie worth the watch. Hopkins and Oldman. Keanu Reeves is a joke in this film to be honest and I’m not saying that because I’m one of those people who loves bashing him all the time. I actually like Keanu at times, but this defiantly wasn’t one of them. Winona Ryder wasn’t all that great either. I guess I’m biased by the books portrayal of Mina being a much stronger character. She didn’t give a bad performance like Keanu, but it wasn’t all that great and gain Hopkins and Oldman really own the movie. Tom Waits should get a mention here as well. He actually has a rather important role and does an amazing job with it. I think he was just shy of really hitting the character on the mark though, since Renfield is a very interesting character.
So to the two main actors in my opinion. Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role now that I’ve seen him and he really does a phenomenal job. I mean honestly, Sir Hopkins is amazing in pretty much everything that I’ve seen him in and thinking about it now, the fact that Van Helsing is a bit ‘eccentric’ really plays into Hopkins strength. To move on Oldman does a phenomenal job as Dracula in all shapes and sizes. Personally I think some of his best bits are at the beginning when he is the ‘old man’ Dracula. He does an amazing job at being that creepy guy.
Another great aspect of this film was the costuming/makeup. The work done for the many forms of Dracula seems to be the most notable and it is all done amazingly well. My only complaint with this is the “young” Dracula. To me he looked like Slash and knowing Oldman played Sid vicious I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. On the other hand though, that actually plays amazingly well to the role of Dracula and his being a sex object. I personally found it odd that Lucy would dress so in that particular nightie, but it works to show off her tits and again the emphasizes the sex in the film. Same with Mina actually.
While flawed in ways that seem unfitting for someone of Coppola’s caliber, the film is still a good film for any Dracula/vampire fans, especially in this day in age. With the sudden popularity of shit like Twilight and True Blood than the highly sexual overtly romantic vampire film Coppola created would probably do well with a modern audience.