Movie Reviews: Dracula
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
A Romance For The ‘90s
This film is a long-awaited reinterpretation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Think of it: Nearly 100 years later, this story still has power to spellbind audiences. Powerful stuff. Indeed, this offering from Francis Ford Coppola has taken a bit of artistic license with the story, but uses it to good effect. The character of Dracula, in a powerful invocation by Gary Oldman (Sid & Nancy, Track 29, Chattahoochee) has been given the dimension of a human. Instead of being an all evil, bloodthirsty killing machine, he has a past, a history and a love story. He becomes the most dynamic character out of the cast of stellar portrayals. Mr. Coppola neatly avoided what is a common pitfall in the Hollywood scene, the casting of a pretty face for its own sake. Dracula could have been just another handsome hunk surrounded by some nifty special effects. He is instead compelling, charismatic and very three dimensional.
One of the most striking differences between this Dracula movie and its predecessors is the frank exploration of the erotic nature of vampirism, and the sexual tension present between the vampire and his victim consort. As we well know, this aspect of the original story has been more suppressed, or, at best, hinted strongly at, with the notable exception of The Hunger. However, as before, the vampires in The Hunger are still the two dimensional “evil force” present in most portrayals.
While tending to be a bit superficial, (after all, it is a Hollywood super budget movie) this remains a visually stunning production with the ability to draw the viewer in and make them feel for the characters, at least while watching it. Anthony Hopkins is wonderfully deadpan as Dr. Van Helsing and provides much of the comic relief necessary this film from taking itself too seriously. Winona Ryder, as Mina, is ethereal and heartbreakingly beautiful, although I found myself rooting for Dracula. This was because the character of her fiance, Jonathan Harker, as played by Keanu Reeves, is almost too pale in comparison. All in all, it is the best Hollywood cheese you’ll ever eat.
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