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Bram Stoker's Dracula

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rated: R
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: November 1992
Genre: Horror


*Also starring: Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Bill Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits



Review by AlexI
3½ stars out of 4

"...Coppola has beautifully directed a bizarre fairytail for grownups...."

Once upon a time, there was a brave prince, who was of the sacred order of the dragon, known as Dracula (Gary Oldman ). He humbly served the cross, defeating all the enemies of Christ. His name was Vlad. He lived happily in his beautiful castle with his beloved wife, Elizabeta (Wiona Ryder ), who he priced above all things on earth.

At that time, Muslim Turks swept into Europe, threatening all Christianity. Vlad marched out to meet the warriors in battle and defeat them. He was victorious. But the evil Turks shot an arrow into his castle, carrying false news - that the prince has fallen. Elizabeta, believing his death, threw herself into the river. When Vlad returned home, he found his beloved princess dead in his chapel. He then addressed God, whom he has served and worshiped his entire life: "Is this how you repay me?!....I denie You...I will arise from my grave and revenge her death with all the powers of darkness...Her blood is now my life! "

That is how the sweet prince became the servant of darkness, cursed to walk in the shadow of death for all eternity. His beautiful castle turned into prison, his heavenly land into hell and his life into nightmare...

Four centuries later, somewhere at the end of the 18th century, company envoy Jonathan Harker (Keanue Reeves) visits Dracula's nightmarish castle to discuss the old vampire's London landholdings. When Dracula sees a photograph of Harker's fiancee Mina, (likewise played by Wiona Ryder), he tearfully realizes the apparent reincarnation of his princess. "Do you believe in destiny?", he asks Harker, "..that even the powers of time can be altered for one single purpose?...The happiest man that walks this earth is the one that finds true love...". From that point Dracula uses all the powers of darkness to reclaim his long lost bride...He travels to London, leaving three half-naked female vampires to feed on Harker's blood.

Meanwhile, staid and proper Mina waits for Harker by moving in with her best friend Lucy (Sadie Frost), a wild, fresh aristocrat with three suitors, an English gentleman (Cary Elwes), a homily-spouting Texan(Bill Campbell ) and the aforementioned Dr. Seward (Richard E. Grant ). Before recapturing Mina/Elisabeta's heart, Dracula entices Lucy, to become one of his fellow night creatures - a disciple of Darkness.. Despite the best efforts of her suitors and the metaphysical specialist Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins), Lucy succumbs to her incurable malady. Van Helsing leads the effort to stop Dracula's draw on Mina. It's a foray that mixes state-of-the-art ghoulish effects with '50s-style movie fog, high humor and intense emotions.

Oldman's Dracula appears in a number of forms, some enhanced by creative and no doubt uncomfortable makeup. But while he's convincing in all of them, he's most impressive as the young Dracula. Seductive and attentive, he has everything it takes to create Dracula's overwhelming personality. Wiona Ryder is the otherwise dependable and sensible Mina, mysteriously drown to the charming foreigner in Jonathan's absence. She is constantly searching for her true self, at last realizing that she is the reincarnated spirit of Dracula's beloved princess, she is caught between two worlds of which she must choose one. It's an appropriately adult turn for Ryder, who manages to make you forget her gawky teen roles.

Hopkins provides comic relief and explanations as Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing. It isn't a large role, but it gets the biggest laughs. Reeves does all right as the serious young man of the future. His recognizable dry acting is here at its place, but he easily could have been replaced by any number of actors.

Francis Ford Cappola's picture is structured as Stoker's novel - with fragments from the diaries of the main characters. That way we get their true feelings, thoughts and emotions. Both the film's synopses and visual appearence are specifically made as a fairytail. The sudden transformation of Dracula's beautiful castle and heavenly land into the frightening darkness reminds of the classic fairytail "Beauty and the Beast". From the dark, gothic forests of Transylvania, "..where Devil and his children walk the earth with earthly feet..", to the beautifully recreated streets of victorian London, "Dracula" is undescribably beautiful. The production- and costume design, art direction, makeup, musical score and interesting visual effects are wonderful and could not be better.

"Bram Stoker's Dracula" is a visually stunning fairytail for grownups. It's about prince and his princess, the eternal conflict between good and evil and how good always prevails. It's about war with God, about love, fate and destiny...

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