Friday, 5 August 2011

I love "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and I am not ashamed

The other night I fished out my battered VHS copy of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (or, as I like sometimes to call it, "Barn Stormer's Darcular") and watched it again. In my opinion, the film (which astonishingly is nearly twenty years old) has held up remarkably well, and really is cinematically excellent. The combination of Coppola's direction (let us not forget this is the man who made the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now), a rash of A-list acting talent including Gary Oldman (whose stellar performance powers the film along), Anthony Hopkins, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and the utterly gorgeous Winona Ryder, lush cinematography, fantastic special effects, freakish Lynchian dream-imagery, stratospheric production values and one of the best scores ever written (by Wojciech Kilar, who scored some of Polanski's early work), go together to create a modern classic.

Image © 1992 American Zoetrope

Sure, the film has its detractors - and, to be fair, it has its flaws, not least among them Keanu ("Canoe") Reeves as Harker. His English accent is pretty much flawless - but he concentrates so hard on it that any small amount of acting prowess he may actually have had goes completely unused. He is literally like a lump of wood. The whole production also looks very studio-bound, doubtless because it is (there was no location work at all). But the film is superbly paced, constantly changing location and edited into lots of short, punchy scenes which keep the viewer gripped throughout, and is, by all accounts, very true to the book. I have never actually read it, but intend to correct this oversight in the near future.

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