In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote what has become the definitive vampire novel, Dracula. It has stood the test of time and has gone on to influence countless other vampire stories since.
There have also been countless film adaptations throughout the years, many of which are quite good, some of which not so much. In the end, I decided to go with my favorite of the film adaptations for tonight (technically last night, whoops)’s review, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Year Released: 1992
Written By: James V. Hart (based on the novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker)
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gary Oldman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves
The year is 1897 and Jonathan Harker has taken over the solicitation accounts of his colleague, R.M. Renfield when it is discovered that Renfield has gone insane. One of these accounts belongs to Count Dracula of Transylvania who has opted to purchase real estate around London, England.
Jonathan leaves his fiancée Mina in London and travels to Transylvania to meet with the Count, keeping a journal of the entire trip. Upon arrival at Count Dracula’s castle, he notes the Count’s odd demeanor and appearance, but Count Dracula also takes notice of something about Jonathan; a photo of Mina he keeps with him at all times. Jonathan decides to try and wrap business up as quickly as possible, so as he may return home to marry his beloved Mina, but falls under a spell while at the castle and stays much longer than he is even aware of.
Meanwhile, Count Dracula leaves Jonathan to his “brides” and travels to London with his eyes set on one thing: Mina herself.
The original novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker, may be my favorite novel of all time. So I take any adaptations of it quite seriously. From the classic 1931 Universal film Dracula forward, there have been many many times that this story has been retold on film. Many of the Hammer Films productions from the 1960s and 70s, while over the top and silly, are fun to watch.
Out of all of the Dracula adaptations and remakes and reboots and retellings, I have to say that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is my favorite for the simple reason that it is the closest to the source material that I have ever seen. Almost everything is in there. The reason I love Bram Stoker’s novel so much is that it’s really a love story, when all is said and done, and by the end of the book you end up feeling sorry for Dracula. He’s a supernatural being who has done many terrible things, killed many people over centuries of walking the Earth, but by the end of his story, you feel a sadness about what he has gone through all those years.
This is a period piece and the makeup/costume design reflect that very well. The whole movie is beautiful, which you would of course already be expecting of a Coppola movie.
The creature design, Dracula in all of his forms, plus his brides, are all wonderful. Very creepy where it counts, but also very human where it needs to be.
The acting in this film, with the exception of Keanu Reeves doing a laughable British accent (and I love Keanu Reeves in a lot of other films), is tremendous. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman are the true stars of this film, although in a turn that was surprising in 1992, Winona Ryder holds her own.
Should You See It:
Yes. Even if you don’t have a love of the source material as I do, it’s still a beautiful film that ends up being truly frightening at times.