View Full Version : Dracula

02-11-2007, 09:55 PM
Masterpiece theater has the latest version running. Who here has read Bram Stoker's book? I did, maybe ten years back. Honestly? It's pretty bad. The idea, and the plot is okay, but the writing is insipid late Victorian American drivel. Much worse than anything Henry James ever cooked up.

Yet, with that stroke he creates an endlessly fascinating anti-hero. How many film versions are there of that ghoul? My favorite, and it's pretty true to the book, was made in the early eighties. Frank Langella in the title role. If you are ever looking for Gothic horror look up that film. Very well done. Langella makes me believe.

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2007, 10:10 PM

The third season is particularly good.

02-12-2007, 09:09 AM
I taped Dracula last night, as there were too many things to do ... The good wife wrote on Dracula in her dissertation. Fascinating to hear her talk about it, and about gothic fiction in general.

How was the version last night? FWIW, she really didn't like the "Bram Stoker's Dracula" from a few years ago.


02-12-2007, 09:36 AM

I had it playing as background, and didn't pay close attention. One thing that hit me was that they'd taken a card from The Davinci Code's deck, and from Anne Rice's novels, and had a secret brotherhood of the undead percolating in the background, in a way that isn't in the original novel. Typically well done Masterpiece Theater, but it didn't arrest me. Lots of Brit dudgeon.

Count Dracula is an interesting makeup of what Jung called the shadow. He's the anti-Christ, replete with blood and body orgies in the darkness. Stoker's novel really is weak, but he opened an interesting door.

I'll just reiterate, if you want the best film experience of the count, check out the early eighties version with Frank Langella. Coppolla's film extravaganza was almost as weak as the novel.

02-12-2007, 09:48 AM
just got the amc channel (american movie classics) and tcm channels on digital , boy those old b&w's in hd look great

02-12-2007, 10:13 AM
I'll look up that version, Ish.

Stoker's novel is only "special" in that it wrote out the myth ... and expressed metaphorically a number of truths about Victorian society. Men preying on women, and women preying on children. Parallels between the banking and business worlds and the vampiric world ... and of course the parodic relationship between the sexes that vampirism implies.

Stoker's novel was only intended as a pot-boiler, and isn't wondrous prose by any stretch. But as my ever intrigueing spouse points out, it's in the pot-boiler popular fiction of an age that you get your best glimpse of the real anxieties of people of the time - the stuff that sells is also the stuff that connects with people.

I find it very interesting that the vampire stories still have such attraction - many of the eastern European stories were based on the experience of men returning from fighting the Turks, and acting out post-traumatic stress disorder.

02-12-2007, 10:16 AM

I never watched much Buffy. Worth a look?

The image Stoker opened the door to is amazingly resilient. He wrote, what, a hundred years after Shelly's Frankenstein? And his monster is much more human, organic. You can imagine Frankenstein's monster running amuck, but you can't imagine him biting someone in erotic embrace. Shelley wrote at the beginning of machines and science taking over our lives. There's another rambling novel of questionable repute, but I like the writing there, unlike Stoker's

John E Hardiman
02-12-2007, 01:18 PM
Honestly? It's pretty bad. The idea, and the plot is okay, but the writing is insipid late Victorian American drivel.

What's the matter? Don't you believe in Texans? ;)

02-12-2007, 04:16 PM
I'll second Ish's recommendation of the Frank Langella Dracula. Also, if you ever get a chance to see Langella's Sherlock Holmes, do so. I think it was filmed on the stage for HBO or some such 'round about 1984.


Bruce Taylor
02-12-2007, 04:28 PM
I never watched much Buffy. Worth a look?

Yup....imaginative, sharply written and a lot of fun. Some episodes are better than others (and some, like "Hush" from season 4 are quite superb).

02-12-2007, 04:47 PM
I loved the Scorcese dracula, Gary Oldman.

02-12-2007, 05:20 PM
I loved the Scorcese dracula, Gary Oldman.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103874/ Coppola perhaps?
Great cast .Tom Waits makes an excellent bug eating lunatic.

As for Buffy I wasn't impressed initially so I gave it a miss.Tuned back in years later to find our hero working in a fast-food joint.Very funny ,was hooked from then.Invisible Buffy what a hoot!!

02-12-2007, 08:04 PM
It's Coppola.

Oldman is one of the most talented actors of my generation. Good range, good verisimilitude. I'd compare him favorably on screen with Olivier. But Coppola's Dracula was way too in love with effect. It was visually stunning, but I found myself bogged down, especially with some of the side performances. Winona Rider's Mina was particularly vapid. Hopkins was typically competent, but the film was too distracted from the character of the Count.

An interesting senior seminar in film, or maybe a festival, would be to show the major films in the genre, from Nosferatu to the current Masterpiece Theater. I'll tell ya, I don't often have erotic imagining toward a man, on film or off, but Langella's performance is spectacular, and very seductive. He's kinda unsung, a leading man who never quite caught the wave, but he catches what I imagine Stoker's original idea was. Eros, death, and eternal life in a single dark figure, as a counter to the pasteboard Jesus of the era.