Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bram Stoker's Dracula ★★★

    Dracula is indubitably one of the most significant characters ever developed in the vast world of literature. His likeness has been adapted into virtually every conceivable medium, including film.

    "Bram Stoker's Dracula" contains one of the more flattering depictions of the prince of darkness, and it provides a startling atmosphere brimming with seductiveness. Francis Ford Coppola lends his hand to the direction of this film, which is arguably his last notable appearance in that position. Coppola has an illustrious career as a filmmaker, which, for the most part, is filled with timeless masterpieces.

    Although this picture isn't the swan song we would imagine from Coppola, it is a compelling and bold adventure that stays true to the classic novel written at the turn of the twentieth century.

    Our story begins with the introduction of Vlad Dracula, a highly regarded warrior who relishes in the slayings of his enemies. He is a protector of Christianity and the Romanian population. After defeating the Turks in a merciless battle, Vlad returns home to see that his wife, Elisabeta, has taken her own life. Unfortunately, she was given false information regarding Vlad's death and decided she could not live without him.

    Subsequently, this leads Vlad to renounce Christianity and God because of the inevitable eternal damnation of his precious Elisabeta. He strikes the cross with his sword and drinks the blood that gushes outward. (This particular scene is quite disturbing and will leave you somewhat perturbed.)

    Centuries pass and Vlad, now known as Count Dracula, has become a shell of his former self. He is consumed with the vile and wicked powers that he embraced over four hundred years earlier and has confined himself to a castle in Transylvania. Apart from dwelling on the loss of his former true love, Dracula has become a notable real estate consumer and has become infatuated with buying numerous properties in London. This brings newly qualified lawyer Jonathan Harker to Dracula's home as an aid to see him through his most recent acquisitions.

    The subtle and fascinating personality of Dracula is a rather burdensome task for one to portray; however, Gary Oldman leaves no doubt as to why he was chosen for the part. Oldman excels in the role of Dracula and astonishes with the tone and style that he brings to this famed character. He embraces Coppola's vision of this portrayal and exhibits an air of sensuality throughout the film. Oldman's charisma and visible chemistry with his fellow actresses allow this film to conform to its own perception of thought. Without the charm of Oldman, this film would not revel in the perceived notion that Dracula is still a man with a heart, even if it is undead.

    The presence of Jonathan Harker in Dracula's humble abode provides the count with a new ambition. Harker's fiancee, Mina, is an uncanny reincarnation of Dracula's beloved Elisabeta. After seeing a picture of her, Dracula proceeds to visit London in an effort to search for this beautiful Mina, and Harker is left to be fed upon by his three seductive brides.

    While in London, Dracula begins his seduction of Mina and, after a blood-lustful night, has a sexual encounter with Mina's well to do friend, Lucy. This culminates in the transfer of blood into Lucy, who consequently becomes a spawn of Dracula. Her change is quite obvious to the loved ones that surround her, and this leads to the summoning of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

    Van Helsing is an eccentric fellow, who knows what Lucy is becoming. After much thought and research, he comes to the precise conclusion that Dracula is among the inhabitants of the cobblestoned streets of London; a shadow lurking in the blackness enshrouded halls of man. Van Helsing and a group of Lucy's former suitors begin to track down Dracula before he can entice Mina into a world of darkness.

    Other memorable performances in this film include that of Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing and Winona Ryder depicting Mina. Hopkins is highly entertaining and quite brilliant as the local doctor, who also divulges in the knowledge of the underworld. (He exercises demons and beheads vampires as if it were his pastime.) Despite the fact that Hopkins' time on screen is limited, he delivers a much-needed release from the sexually tension-filled atmosphere.

    Ryder is a wonderful actress whose presence here is extremely integral to the production of this film. She provides a tangible sense of elegance and chemistry with Oldman, which helps to ignite the four-hundred-year-old romance that Dracula has been direly in search of. Her innocence and allure make her one of the most believable characters in a film where conceivability is hard to come by.

    The emphasis on costume and wardrobe is conspicuous and impressive to say the least. It lends credibility to the eye in the form of accurate presentation. It is much easier to believe events are taking place when the characters and locations look the part. Another commendable notion to be applauded is the stubbornness of Coppola.

    Although computer graphic imaging was not as sophisticated or widely utilized in the early 1990s as it is today, it still found its way into multiple films of this era. Coppola refused to use CGI in this rendition of Dracula and opted instead for the use of on set and in-camera techniques. I can only praise him for these actions. Nevertheless, with today's modern film production, these methods are all but unimaginable.

    If there is one prominent emotion relevant to Coppola's "Dracula," it is one of carnal sensation and desire. These are temptations that envelop us all, whether they are warranted or not. Lust has persisted throughout the age of man and will most certainly continue to linger for centuries to come. However, it should never be confused with love. Love is something every creature on this Earth needs to survive. Lust is experienced, then lost in the winds of time. This is why Dracula longed for love and was never content with the lustful demons within his home, who attempted to steal his heart.

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