Review: Coppolla's Dracula (1992)
If you have not heard the story of Dracula by now, then I will proceed to remove the rock from under which you must be living, dear reader.
Dracula is a fictional character whose creation was inspired by Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, who was born in 1431 to Vlad Dracul II and, as is speculated but not known, Princess Cneajna of Moldavia. He is known by another name: Vlad Tepes, which, from Romanian, translates to Vlad the Impaler.
The name and character Dracula was made famous by an Irish author, penning under the name Bram Stoker, who wrote the story as an epistolary novel; meaning it was written using a collection of fictional ship's log entries and diary entries and letters, not too unlike what we see today on social media sites like twitter and blog websites, which tell a story of someone's life or a relevant experience in their lives!
The 1992 Film
Francis Ford Coppola directed this book-to-cinema telling of the story of Dracula. Some widely known on-screen talent was brought on to act in this film, most notably: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. Some actors who would later become big stars were also attached to this film.
I just finished watching this film again and, man oh man, had I forgotten how dated just about EVERYTHING is about it.
The attempt at British accents by the non-British talent felt awkward and embarrassing to sit through. All throughout the film, there was a voice inside me screaming, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS UNHOLY, SOMEONE PLEASE REBOOT THIS FILM!!". The casting was OK. They could have replaced Keanu Reeves as Harker, but everyone else seemed to deliver pretty well. There is no replacing Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, or Sadie Frost as Lucy, no friggin way.
I'm going through this piece and grumbling to myself about how they could have found someone who could deliver better than Wynona Rider until that scene...
...you know, the one scene with the one line that defines the theme of the entire film...
...the scene where she's up in the living quarters of the asylum, Vlad travels up to her room as a green mist, and they have that dialogue; where he reveals who he is to her, she realizes who he is and what he's done and attacks him in anger, then breaks down as she realizes how much she loves him...
Take her away from all this death.
It's the single most moving scene in the entire film and it's all because of Wynona's... outstanding? heart-wrenching? inspirational? I don't even know if those words do her delivery justice, but holy hell the vulnerability in her voice, the surrender to those feelings in her eyes when she delivers those lines, "I love you. god forgive me, I do," is so intensely touching. The deeply emotional effectiveness of that one scene depends hugely on the context and build from the beginning of the film, character development and our investing in them. Watching the scene alone won't provide the effect at quite the same, deeply emotional level that seeing the film from the beginning will.
That scene alone proves to me every time how talented that actress really is and made the cheesiness that followed for the rest of the film a little more palatable. I can't imagine how, and am simultaneously envious of how, Gary Oldman managed to stay in character with her looking up at him like that. That is a once in a lifetime moment, nevermind that it's acting, and I'd be shocked to learn that there were multiple takes done for that scene. They both nailed everything flawlessly.
I dare anyone to do better with a reboot; or even just as well with someone playing Mina/Elisabeta. I could even see an actress taking on the part of Lucy and making it her own, but any actress taking on Mina is going to have some pretty damn big shoes to fill.
Bram Stoker's Dracula: a wonderful journey into a world of darkness, a world of love, and the journey to reconnect with a soulmate, no matter how long it takes.
The 1992 movie: A moderately successful film take on the classic story, mostly with low budget effects and moments of forced dramatic acting, but with one scene that makes the entire film!