Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Movie Review
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Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard Grant, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits

Subgenre: Vampires

Synopsis: Francis Ford Coppola brings Bram Stoker’s famed novel to the big screen.

Thoughts: The story of Dracula has been brought to the big screen more times than any other story.  The Count has been featured in more than 200 films.  His character is second only to Sherlock Holmes in screen appearances.  While you can argue that there have been better adaptations, I would say that Francis Ford Coppola brought us the most stunningly beautiful version.  The set pieces and costumes are amazing.

The cast features many big names and is a bit of a mixed bag of performances.  Keanu Reeves is laughable at times as Jonathan Harker and Winona Ryder’s accent often sounds forced, but other than that, the cast is pretty remarkable.  Anthony Hopkins delivers a different sort of Van Helsing than we are used to seeing.  He doesn’t have the charm of Peter Cushing, instead opting for a bit of a disheveled look.  He reminds me of a professor with his vast knowledge and often mussed hair.

What makes the movie is the performance of Gary Oldman as Count Dracula.  While Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee have given us some iconic performances as the Count, you cannot diminish what Oldman did in his single turn as Dracula.  The makeup work allows Oldman to play the Count as a younger man, the older version, as well as some rather monstrous incarnations.  Some years ago, I was at Coppola’s winery in the Napa Valley and he had several movie pieces in a museum.  One of the pieces was the red suit or armor that Dracula donned in the first segment of the movie.  It was an amazing sight to behold.

There is a lot going on in this story, and Coppola tried to put as much of the novel onto the screen as he could.  This created a movie that tended to be a little confusing and long at times.  Coppola’s direction is what you would expect, a thing of beauty.  Since Dracula, Coppola has not had much luck with his releases.  His last two movies have not been successful at all, but he still remains one of my all-time favorite Directors.  He has brought us some of the greatest movies of all time in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.  I hold out hope that he has one more bit of greatness in him.

While this version of Dracula has its detractors, I am a fan of it.  I can overlook the suspect acting from Reeves and enjoy it for what it is, a visual smorgasbord waiting to be feasted on.   If you have never seen it, check it out, and if it has been awhile, give it another shot. 

  1. I’ve always been a fan, in spite of Keanu Reeves’ terrible accent. Same goes for The Devil’s Advocate.

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