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Bram Stoker's Dracula

Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic novel, reinterpeted as a Gothic romance.

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"We've all become God's madmen"

  • Oct 26, 2008
  • by

In an exercise of cosmic madness, the essence of vampire lore is born with Count Dracula and his centuries-long yearning for the deceased Mina, an erotic love story lost in a netherworld of dreamless musings.


In this sensual feast of images, saturated with thick, red blood, an epic struggle is waged, a battle for eternity. Count Dracula purchases real estate in Victorian London, transferring crates of Transylvanian earth, where he will rest by day, pursuing the reincarnated Mina (Winona Ryder) by night. Mina is engaged to Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves in a particularly wooden and unctuous performance), the young man sent to transact business with the Count in Transylvania. Trapped in the Dracula's castle and unable to return to London, Dracula's three ex-wives petulantly drain the young man's blood to ensure his passivity. If they drained much more fluid, the insipid Harker would be dead, his acting so inanimate as to appear purposefully comedic.


Not to worry. Gary Oldman, as the Count, makes up for any flaws in Coppola's vision of Bram Stoker's Dracula, resplendent as the wizened vampire with taloned fingers, his eyes cloudy with memory. Appearing in London to claim his prize, Oldman is a suave boulevardier, who has no difficulty attracting the damsel's attentions (consider the alternative), eventually siphoning off a quart or so of her blood, his eyes rolling back in an ecstasy of content.


As Dracula's lost love, Mina (Ryder) at first appears as stiff as her intended (Reeves), passionless and prim, a perfectly repressed Victorian. However, once infused with the elixir of immortality, the lady perks right up and shows her mettle (and incipient fangs), writhing in vampiric agony, tormented by her blood lust for the Count.


The cinematography is excellent, but especially stunning when the fleshly concupiscence of the female form is contrasted with a dark need for transfusion. One particularly memorable character is Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra. Thrashing with urgency, the titian-haired Lucy's throat is nightly bared to her seducer, sinking inexorably toward death, yet glowing in her new-fanged vulnerability, only to be reborn in the crypt. Unfortunately, this juicy morsel falls victim to the vampire slayer's sword, post-mortem. Two other impressive roles are filled by Tom Waits as the bug-crunching, straight-jacketed Renfield and Richard E. Grant as his hollowed-eyed, drug-addled doctor/keeper.


For all the mist-shrouded roads and menacing packs of wolves, it is Mina who rocks when calling forth the storm's fury in a bid to shield Dracula from the burning rays of the sun, shouting incantations as a posse rides to cut the Count off at the proverbial pass. Led by an overweening Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins), the do-gooders, including the pale visage of Jonathan Harker, plan Dracula's ultimate destruction: a stake through the heart and off with his head. At the moment of truth, Mina confronts Jonathan, asking if this is to be her fate as well. But the men withdraw on the order of a pontificating Van Helsing, "We've all become God's madmen!" It is left to the compassionate Mina to free her decadent love, releasing them both to the land of myth: "Our love is stronger than death." One can only hope. Luan Gaines/2005.




Bram Stoker's Dracula

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October 20, 2010
I love this movie, even the fact the Keanu Reeves is such a dolt. And Tom Waits kills.
October 18, 2010
YES finally some else thinks Tom Waits was great in this.
October 27, 2008
Comprehensive! You don't even have to see the movie if you just read this review = )
More Bram Stoker's Dracula reviews
Quick Tip by . February 21, 2010
my favorite
review by . December 23, 2008
Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film, Bram Stoker's Dracula, is a lavish, visually stunning treatment of the Dracula tale. The film features exquisite production design, startling special effects, and one of the best film scores that I've heard in a long time. But the film, which had so much potential, is deeply flawed. Altogether Bram Stoker's Dracula suffers from an excessive amount of visual stimuli, which takes priority over characterization and acting. Much of the cast gives either flat, unconvincing …
review by . November 08, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I was a junior in high school when this film first came out. I went with one of my friends on one of the coldest Louisiana evenings of that year. That cold atmosphere, along with the dark, damp and aging cinema that I saw the film in made "Bram Stoker's Dracula" one of my favorite films of all time. It's been awhile since I read the book, but I think the film follows the pages of Stoker's novel reasonably close, with a couple of adjustments in characters and in sequences(as is the usual for books-to-the-big-screen) …
review by . July 07, 2001
This is a fascinating movie, but not just for the reasons Coppola might have intended. It's a lushly shot, beautifully staged affair, oozing over-ripe, autumnal colours in obvious counterpoint to cool blues and bloodless hues asociated the cast of vampires. It is outwardly a fairly faithful rendering of Bram Stoker's novel, but in pretty much every other respect it puts a novel spin on the well worn story. For one thing, it's not very scary; any horror is supplanted by the decadence and sexuality …
review by . August 31, 2000
Pros: a pleasant retelling of his oldie     Cons: ..     THE PLAYERS:   Dracul - Gary Oldman   Elisabeta/Mina - Winona Ryder   Jonathan Harker - Keanu Reeves   Van Helsing - Anthony Hopkins      In a twist to this timeless tale, we are finally given a peek into the background and lifestyle of Count Dracul, played remarkably well by Gary Oldman. In his life (former life, first life?) Dracul is the …
About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #108
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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