Saturday, July 25, 2009

Will the Real Bram Stoker's Dracula Please Stand Up?

I've been re-reading Lyndon W. Joslin's Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker's Novel Adapted, 1922-1995 (Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1999) and it's got me thinking.

Why hasn't anyone done a proper adaptation of Stoker's novel?

I mean, if you read Joslin's synopsis of the book (pp. 7-10), it's all fairly straightforward. What's the challenge? What's the hold-up?

The closest it's come to a faithful rendition, in my opinion, is Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). It retains all the major characters, most plot points...but then incorporates a whole reincarnation-love story subplot.

Christopher Lee played Dracula several times, in several movies, yet in only one does his look conform with Stoker's description.

He's definitely one of the best actors to play the part. He's got the look. He's classically trained. I think.

He's even passionate enough to expresses exasperation over Dracula movies straying from the source:
The subsequent Dracula stories, after the first one, got so far away from the original conception, not only in the character but in the stories themselves, which had absolutely nothing to do with Stoker. The same thing happened with the Fu Manchu films. The producer bought the rights to all Sax Rohmer's stories about Fu Manchu, ignored them and then wrote his own. Something quite beyond me, I can't understand it. But I had read the books as a boy. I knew what the character was, because I knew how the author described him, so I played him the way that the author described him. It wasn't necessarily what was in the script. And the same thing applied to the character that I played in the Dracula movies. I tried to play the character the way that the author described him, but it wasn't in the script.
This is a golden opportunity, Hollywood! Or BBC, if you're reading.

Let's finally get a faithfully rendered Dracula movie up and running!

I mean, what do I have to do? Write the damn screenplay myself...


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey, AV... despite being modernised probably the most novel accurate version of Dracula was Alucard from 2008.

The problems with it were lack of budget and the fact that the dialogue lifted into the modern world from Stoker didn't work.

Like you I await an accurate version of the story, with budget and in period setting.

The 1992 version is incredibly inaccurate to Stoker - indeed it is more accurate to Dan Curtis!

Anthony Hogg said...

Hi Taliesin,

I've yet to see that movie. Unfortunately, my vampire movie watching isn't as extensive as yours. But I don't think you'd have much competition in those, uh, stakes, either!

At the time Joslin wrote the book, his money was on BBC-TV's Count Dracula (1977) as the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel:

"The BBC's production of Count Dracula, originally shown in the U.S. as a three-part miniseries, is, simply put, the most faithful adaptation of the novel yet filmed, Francis Ford Coppola's boasts to the contrary." (p. 78)

Not sure if you've reviewed that one, yet.

Anyway, if you haven't read Joslin's book yet, I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy.

I'll also note that a second edition was published: Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker's Novel Adapted, 1922-2003 (2006).

Taliesin_ttlg said...


I'll keep an eye out for it appearing at a decent price. Thanks for the tip

I don't think, re-reading my original comment, that I explained how bad a movie Alucard is... accurate but bad... brave, as they had no budget but bad (you get the picture I'm sure)

...btw... I'm sure someone must obsessively watch vampire movies more than I, :)

Anthony Hogg said...

The book is rather expensive, so you could go the other way and get yourself a library I did!

Considering the badness of Alucard, it's amazing what a lil' initiative and a digital camera, a few friends and some DVD cover art can do these days, eh?

Well, you'd be hard pressed to find someone with your level of enthusiasm for vampire movies! And it's a good thing, too! I mean, how else would we have your excellent blog?

Keep up the good work!

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