"...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
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