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How Does Calcutt's Drama Adaptation of Dracula Differ From Other Interpretations?
David Calcutt's Adaptation
David Calcutt’s adaptation of Dracula differs in many ways from other interpretations. It lacks any frightening aspect as in the prologue, we are convinced to believe Dracula is a lonely old man, therefore making the entire story mild as you feel sorry for Dracula. This minimises the conflict, and you cannot have a drama story without conflict. This essay will include similarities and differences between David Calcutt’s drama adaptation, Todd Browning's film starring Bela Lugosi as Dracula filmed in nineteen-thirty one, and other interpretations.
Dracula is a story about a vampire living in Transylvania, trying to find a new life for himself in England. He converts Lucy to vampirism, and tries to convert Mina as well. In the end, Professor Van Helsing, an expert on vampires, teaches the others about how to defeat them and Dracula disappears.
The first and most influential difference between Calcutt’s version and the original is that Calcutt wrote his version for a key stage three audience. This heavily influences the difficulty of the dialogue, making Dracula more of a children’s book than the adult storyline most people know. Calcutt’s version has been edited and reduced to suit a younger audience, whereas the film is descriptive and contains complex sentences.
Another difference is that in the film, newspapers are shown to convey the story to the audience. However, in Calcutt’s version, he uses a news reporter. I feel that using a news reporter to convey the story is much better than just a newspaper, as you do not have to read lots. A film is meant to be the opposite of a book, not filled with writing you have to read.
A key difference is that in the film the characters of Renfield and Jonathan Harker are mixed up in a confusing way. Harker is still a solicitor, but it is he, not Renfield that goes mad. In the play though, Renfield is shown near the beginning of the story to already be mad and in Dracula’s control.
In the play, the characters manage to deter Dracula from biting Mina. However, in the film they do not succeed, and Mina dies after 1 bite. This is contradictory to the original story, where Mina is also not infected. As to why this happens, I am not sure. It might have been because in the film, they are trying to make Dracula appear as more of a threat to human life. Again, the play fails to appeal to any audience other than small children due to its low conflict rate.
In both the original story and in Calcutt’s play, garlic is used to fend off vampires. Albeit in the film, Wolfbain is used. This might have been because they had no garlic or maybe one of the actors was allergic to it. Either way, it doesn’t really affect the storyline at all.
In both the play and the film, we see limited special effects. This is partly due to the age of the film (filmed in 1931), and partly to the amateur actors. This makes both versions much less interesting, and severely decreases the appeal to a wider audience.
Both Calcutt and the film say that technology and medicine are powerless against Dracula. This shows that they both want the story to go on into a longer method of resolution. If technology and medicine were not powerless against Dracula, it would be a much shorter story.
Other interpretations of Dracula include the film directed by Francis Ford Coppala and starring Gary Oldman. It also does not include Mina being infected, only Lucy. It uses lots of special effects, therefore making the film superior both intellectually and frighteningly gripping. In the book and in Todd Browning’s film there were little or no special effects. Without them, everything appears dull and uninspiring due to being so unrealistic. It was filmed in 1992, which even though is a long way from today’s modern technology; it is also far from 1931 when special effects were at a minimum.
In conclusion, David Calcutt’s version of Dracula differs in many ways from other interpretations; most importantly the fact that his version has a target audience of key stage three and therefore has in the main, a simplified monosyllabic text. Calcutt minimises the conflict by saying at the beginning that Dracula is just a lonely old man, and you cannot have any kind of drama play, film or book without conflict.