Rakesh's movie talk
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Home | Movie Reviews | Movie talk | Film Personalities | Misc Articles | Contact Me | Tamil Time

Directed by Francis Coppola
Written by James V. Hart based on novel by Bram Stoker.
Starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Wynona Ryder and Keanu Reeves

Francis Coppola has a big problem. He will forever be identified with The Godfather movies. How unfair? Very few will remember his other great movies like The Conversation, Apocalypse Now (the greatest) and the excellent Bram Stoker's Dracula.

This is probably one of the most overlooked movie of that time. Indeed, it is strange why Coppola would chose to remake a classic that has been remade a hundred times. Strange for a director who is known for his originality.

As originals would do, Coppola went straight to book. The last time he adapted a classic was Apocalypse Now, which was an update of Joseph Condrad's Heart Of Darkness. The result? One of the greatest masterpieces to come out of Hollywood. And Dracula come close.

The weaknesses I see in this movie is a little bit on the casting. The casting of Americans, Wynona Ryder and Keanu Reeves as the Londeners Mina and Jonathan Harker is a big, big mistake. May not be Coppola's doing, it must have been the studio heads who wanted marketability.

There lies the only weakness. The rest of the cast? Brilliant. Gary Oldman's Dracula is some piece of work. He can completely eliminate all the memories of previous great Dracula's (Lugosi, Lee) in the first scene. He has this whole bag of tricks that can convince you who he really is, and who he isn't.

Another outstanding performance comes from the ever reliable Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. And this is not the straight off vampire slayer you see in Peter Cushing or others. This guy is not, well, not exactly in right frame of mind. You may see some resemblance between his performance in Silence of The Lambs here. But it is for good, if you ask me, because it makes you not sure, whether to root the count or this mad professor.

This is not horror movie perse. A great portion of it is about the romance he has for Mina. The twist in the movie version has Mina resemble Dracula's late wife. Oh, and there is this great battle scene at the beginning of the movie. Freakin' bloody. And this was before Braveheart and Gladiator made ancient battles fun, mind you.

But the biggest attraction in this movie is the cinematography. Together with master cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, Coppola created many unforgettable, surrealistic imageries, so eerie, so creepy, dreamy and yet so real. Those characters does not inhabit an ordinary universe, and you can see the world through both Dracula's and the victim's eye. It can be very, very disconcerting and the filmakers have done a brilliant job.

And oh, watch out for rocker Tom Waits, who was magnificient as Renfeild. Maasster! Massster!

Sharp Tongue: Gary Oldman as Count Dracula