Film Production Studio: Columbia Pictures
Run Time: 128 minutes
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins…
The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
Prior to reading Bram Stoker’s dark tale, I had not watched this particular version of Dracula. While I was reading the book, my anticipation to watch the film adaptation only grew until the time when I finally allowed myself to see it. With Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Anthony Hopkins, this production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula from 1992 had some amazing actors! Without reading any of the actual reviews, I still checked out it’s Rotten Tomatoes rating…
Maybe all of the hype surrounding this movie greatly raised my expectations? Maybe I didn’t watch the same film all these other movie reviewers rated? Maybe I was watching the film adaptation too soon after very recently reading what Bram Stoker penned so his description of events was freshly painted in my mind, but seriously? To say I was ‘let down’ would be putting it mildly. The little note pad I used to jot down my thoughts while reviewing a movie, quickly filled up six pages! What explanation could there be for my opinion being so very opposite of so many others? I cannot answer that, but I will elaborate on my dismal viewing experience of this movie.
I sincerely wish they wouldn’t have claimed it was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. To me so many liberties were taken in changing not only events but personalities and the integrity of several characters. I found myself annoyed and eventually angry that the entire feel of the story was transposed.
I will start with one visual discrepency I just couldn’t get past. Why, oh why is Dracula’s hair ratted up on top of his head, parted down the middle, and then what would possess anyone to make it look like he has a giant butt displayed on a misshapen head? While reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I felt the writer eluded to Dracula being odd, but not openly creepy and non-human; Especially during the initial meeting between Dracula and Jonathan Harker! Dracula tried to hide that he was a vampire. He was a very cordial host to Jonathan, his guest. His Transylvanian castle was worn and quite dated, but Jonathan easily recognized the wealth and luxury under its antique appearance. One more big problem I had…the movie fabricated the plot line of Dracula becoming instantly obsessed with Mina after seeing Jonathan’s photograph of her…yeah, no.
Everything about Renfield was wrong. He wasn’t Jonathan’s predecessor, he didn’t wear strange contraptions on his hands, and yes, he was in an asylum, however he was under the care of his very professional doctor. Renfield was a patient staying in the asylum where the respected and compassionate Dr. Seward also lived on grounds. The facility was supposed to be represented more like a hospital and Bram Stoker never depicted it as a dingy dungeon with cruel caretakers spraying insane residents with water hoses!
The movie has an R rating and I understand in the 90’s pushing boundaries (some that even needed to be pushed), however I do not appreciate subjecting the virtue of several characters and frankly the purity of the entire story for the sake of making a film more edgy. The lady vampires Jonathan comes in contact with while in the castle were just an excuse to include a racy, sexual scene. The mutation that finally shoved me over the limit was the outrageous way the relationship between Mina and Lucy was portrayed. While reading, I never imagined their characters as flighty, provocative or overly dramatic. Bram Stoker described both Lucy and Mina as humble, respectable, and sweet ladies who were close companions. I liked the honesty of their friendship. To me one basic element in the book was how real, unpretentious, faithful, and very respected the entire cast was looked upon. It only exaggerated the horror in experiencing supernatural events because each individual involved was an upstanding citizen in English society.
I didn’t actually finish watching this movie. I was annoyed one too many times after watching Mina and Lucy kiss. I think I only made it through about 37 minutes. I presumed for how notorious we view Dracula the vampire and for how epic Dracula the novel is considered, the movie adaptation would have been much more admirable. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it that way.