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CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006

Dracula first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form

Literary, fantasy

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 180,000 words

Winona Ryder as Mina, Gary Oldman as Dracula
A rejuvenated Dracula (Gary Oldman) goes after his old lover, Mina (Winona Ryder).

Dracula the seducer

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992): Also called Dracula, film, 128 minutes; director Francis Ford Coppola; writer Jame V. Hart; featuring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Tom Waits

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) goes further than Frank Langella in 1979's steamy Dracula, stripping away the romance to reveal naked sexual heat below it.

Director Francis Ford Coppola purportedly goes back to Stoker's novel, rather than to the much-adapted Balderston play, for his basic story—though I doubt Stoker would appreciate his sexy interpretation. Also this film adds a back story by which it is understood Dracula is seeking in Mina the reincarnation of a love lost centuries ago.

Most startling and enticing is the look of this production. Coppola has gone out of his way—way out of his way—to give the film a dreamy, almost hallucinogenic atmosphere, especially in the seduction scenes.

Gary Oldman as Dracula
Oldman as fussy old Dracula.

And the costumes are also otherworldly, particularly for Dracula himself in his old-man mode, with his hair piled up like a drag queen in a Star Wars movie.

Most appreciated is that he achieved the film's look without any computer-generated graphics. All effects were created using cameras. Despite the dreamy atmosphere, here's a cozy, slightly sweaty, human feel to this production that you don't get with contemporary movies overblown with digital effects.

In the lead role, Gary Oldman is a fussy old vamp of a vampire who seduces...I mean, imprisons...Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Transylvania. Then, rejuvenated as a jaunty young toff, he travels to Victorian England where he takes up seducing—though it's more like raping—Sadie Frost as Lucy. And finally seducing—and I do mean seducing this time—his main target, Winona Ryder as Mina. Led by Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Mina's friends rally to drive Dracula from England and chase him across Transylvania.

This is the only version of Dracula I can think of that includes all these plot points from the novel.

The vampire entertains Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 take on Dracula.

Why then am I not as crazy about it as many movie-goers seem to be?

Perhaps because I also found the novel itself rather laborious between the first few chapters and the concluding chase sequence.

The earlier Hollywood and Hammer films freely revised the narrative to bring out the exciting and fascinatingly repellent aspects of vampirism, while burying the tedious explication. Sure they glamourized and sensationalized it, but with Dracula that's not necessarily a bad thing. By remaining true to the original narrative, Coppola's film both gains and loses.

Still it is one of the serious Dracula films you have to see to understand the many ways Stoker's creation has touched us. Affronted us. Seduced us.

— Eric


CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006

Dracula the seducer