Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay by James V. Hart
Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker
Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Budget $40M Box Office $215.9M
IMDb 7.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes 75% Metacritic 57/100
I recently watched this film for the first time. I have often seen vampire stories romanticized with this mushy dopey idea that being cursed as the undead for all of eternity and forced to feed on fresh blood merely to survive without feeling pain worse than opioid withdrawal is somehow beautiful and romantic and serene. Somehow the idea of a violent killer in defense of his church and faith being immortalized after denouncing his god when his true love is dead upon his return from war doesn’t seem like a cuddle-up and snuggle romantic kind of story.
Not to mention that the idea of living forever, alive or undead, seems depressing to me. How many times over the centuries would you fall in love? How many times would you have to let go of that love? How many truly beautiful human things would you miss out on once you were transformed into the undead? One has to admit there are certain highlights to being human. Highlights that truly make us feel alive.
As a vampire, I would think a being would lose a lot of what makes us human when changed into a creature of the night. The things that truly define our species as humans. Our emotions, our ability for compassion and empathy, some would say our opposable thumbs are key to our species (I don’t know if that’s one hundred percent true, I mean I’ve heard people say that it’s our ability to accessorize that separates us from the animals). The fact is we are animals and no matter what, that is never going to change. We may or may not continue to evolve but we will always be human.
Now, all that being said, they did try to make this film as much of a romance film as possible. It’s a love story…with some twists. Which is okay, I mean, I am human and I get why folks dig love stories, although I’m not really one of them.
But the general story is this…
Dracula was a defender of the church and the final living member of the Dracul family clan. The Prince Dracul was in love with a beautiful maiden and planned to marry her until his oath to protect the church drew him into battle once again. They parted ways with a final passionate kiss and professed their undying love for each other. He goes off to fight. Upon his return, he learned that his bride-to-be had received word through the trickery of his enemies that he was killed in battle. Overtaken by her grief and broken heart, she plummets to her death in the river below their castle. When he sees her dead upon his return to the church he was sworn to protect and God does not bring her back to him, he denounces his God and vows to return from death to avenge the death of his true love.
In his quest for vengeance, he finds his love again, albeit four hundred years later and she happens to be in love with someone else. But her current lover is no match for Dracula and he quickly dispatches anything and anyone in his way. It takes no time at all for Dracula to cut the ties that bind two lovers and two friends. Soon after he puts his plan into action to have his love by his side for all time.
Whether he is successful or not, I am not going to tell you. Though it is an older movie and I’m sure everyone but me has seen it, I just don’t want to tell the ending. You’ll have to watch the movie or read the novel. I have the Marvel Comics hardcover version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that I will be reading soon to compare with the movie. I can already tell you the artwork is fantastic in this comic version. But that’s another post in another section of the website.
As for the overall entertainment value of the movie, it was okay. I expected a lot more violence and blood, seeing as how it is a vampire movie. But I was left somewhat disappointed on that front. I will say that the movie does give a nice all-around story of Dracula, from the beginning to where the film leaves off. I haven’t read the actual novel itself so I can’t compare the film to that unfortunately but, I did think it was good. In my opinion, it was a little long though. I felt that they either had to edit the film to make it shorter from the editing room or they skipped over some parts of the book that made the film a little stuttered in the plot flow.
Other than that, talk about some huge names in this film. I must confess, Anthony Hopkins was the reason I wanted to watch this film. I’m not much of a fan of the vampire genre. But Coppola did a decent job holding my attention. It is a two-hour flick so it does pack a lot into the film but it goes at a steady pace, so it does feel like it moves a little on the slow side.
I felt the acting, for the most part, was good. It was strange to hear Keanu Reeves with the softer voice and accent but I suppose that does help show he has more range than I thought. The film work itself was of course excellent. It was very dramatic. The way the movie was filmed drew specific attention to various aspects of the story, making them more impactful. While I can’t give the film a total five-star rating, I can say that I did enjoy it enough that I would watch it again. I have the feeling it’s one of those films that kind of grows on you as you watch it more and more. I’m sure there are things I missed that I would pick up watching a second or third time.