Young lawyer Jonathan Harker is sent to Transylvania to finalise the sale of a property in London. There he is imprisoned by Count Dracula, who travels to London determined to find Harkerís betrothed Mina Murray, convinced she is the reincarnation of his lost love after seeing her picture. But Van Helsing and his companions stand in the way of Draculaís quest for true love, seeking revenge for his murder of Minaís friend Lucy.
OSCAR WINNER for Best Costume Design, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Make-up
OSCAR NOMINEE for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
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Bram Stokerís Dracula begins by showing audiences the story of how the man became the monster. It is a tragic tale; Vlad the Impaler, a righteous warrior, marches off to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades only to return later and find that his beloved wife Elisabeta has thrown herself to her doom after hearing reports that he was killed in battle. Vlad cannot see how God could let such a thing happen, he renounces him and by doing so, curses himself to an everlasting life of bloodlust and mourning as the vampire Dracula.
Much of the action then takes place between a late Victorian London and Draculaís home in Transylvania. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to meet Count Dracula and arrange his purchase of a property in London, but when the Count spots a portrait of Harkerís soon-to-be wife Mina, he sees his beloved Elisabeta reincarnated (a bit of a coincidence!). So, leaving Harker trapped in his castle with only the three brides for company (poor man), Dracula heads for London for a reunion with his true love. Mina must subsequently decide between this new mysterious man she finds herself attracted to, and Jonathan. Meanwhile, her friend Lucy falls ill with an inexplicable disease of the blood, causing worry for her three suitors, who decide to consult an expert in the field, Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
The other actors in the film are far more effective. Winona Ryder does a decent job as a likeable Mina Murray, Anthony Hopkinsí Van Helsing is a quirky, eccentric Professor with a wry sense of humour and Gary Oldman does brilliantly with his roles as Vlad, Dracula old and young, as well as some monstrous versions. I think his performance as the older Count is the most successful, with his playful yet sinister demeanour; ďYou will, I trust, excuse me if I do not join you. But I have already dined, and I never drink...wine.Ē
Bram Stokerís Dracula has many plus points. Above all it is a very stylishly directed film. Francis Ford Coppola said the film pays homage to others of the genre, pointing out the shot of Dracula rising out of his coffin (a homage to F. W. Murnauís Nosferatu (1922)). Also, the blood splashing onto Lucyís bed from the sides of the room is a homage to Stanley Kubrickís The Shining (1980) and Lucy vomiting blood all over Van Helsing is a homage to William Friedkinís The Exorcist (1973).
The film also benefits from some great sets, costumes and make-up. In fact, everything you see on-screen is impressive. It does suffer slightly in terms of story though. The basic plot is quite simple but there is a lot of switching back and forth between London and Transylvania, there are many different sub-plots and the film is just too long. I do imagine it would be fairly difficult to develop a coherent narrative from the novel though, as it is made up of letters and diary entries from the various characters.
Bram Stokerís Dracula is an enjoyable movie, although it might not be what you expect. Itís very heavy on spectacle but rather light on substance. I wanted more from a film about the most famous vampire ever; I wanted more history and an explanation of how exactly he became a vampire; I wanted a darker, more exciting story because mourning his lost love just seemed a bit pathetic for Dracula. Anyway, arenít vampires supposed to lose their soul? Why does he care? Heís supposed to be a blood-sucking monster! So if youíre looking for a horror film with vampires, you may want to look elsewhere. However, if youíre looking for a love film with vampires, this is definitely one to watch.