A Beautiful, Bloody Red, and Aesthetic Display of a Monstrous, Grandeur Romance- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) Review
It's Friday Favorites for the #31DaysofHalloween. For this first week, I decided to watch my favorite film adaptation of Dracula- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992.) This film stars an almost unrecognizable, brilliant, and completely entrancing Gary Oldman as the ancient Count Dracula. It also stars the compatible and fan favorite Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves.
Red is the color of this film.
Red is the color that stains the opening and ending acts of this film. It is the color of the blood that curses every character.
This film is a love letter. It's a tender kiss to film making. There are scenes of this film that are absolutely tantalizing and enthralling. The use of color, the sets, and the costumes capture the Transylvanian vampire essence. Gary Oldman delivers one of the best performances of his career. He takes you from the comfort of your home and drags you back into his hell-scape hundreds of years ago.
The Counts pale face and stalking white hair sit upon his striking red robe and encompass the room. His subtle possessed and ghoulish movements truly help deliver a believable and spine-tingling performance. His low, melodic voice is nothing short of haunting and uncomfortable.
In the beginning, he is Vlad the Impaler- off fighting the Crusades. When the love of his life commits suicide, because she is under the false notion that he died out on the battlefield, he is overcome with resentment, sadness, and a horrifying determination. He pledges himself vampirism, condemns the church, and vows to walk the earth and wait for his love to be returned to him. He welcomed the curse of the night into his being, and with no remorse nor hesitation, he condemned himself to a monstrous life. This impassioned and tragic act was one of the best scenes to watch unravel. The pouring blood from a taunting cross, the blood red-armored costume of the Count, and the pale dead face of his love on the floor beside him elevate the moment ad absolutely devour you as you watch in awe.
This film never strays or cowers from the eccentricity and the authenticity it knows it's capable of. Each new act brings terrifying moments that you wouldn't even imagine. And along with it, there is a deep yearning for love that pulsates and drives every action of this film. Like the poster states, "Love never dies." But this love story will not make you lean on your lovers shoulder. It makes you shudder and overpowers you with sadness.
The Count changes many forms- from an ancient crow, to a handsome man, to a wolf, and more- and his persona shifts along with him. As he battles with his humanity, his heart is bared, but he never loses that subtle spooky nature underneath the surface that won't allow you to fully fall behind him. You never truly feel safe with him, and you never feel safe with the other characters around him either.
Reeves also delivers a handsome performance, though it can come off as monotone, and he is overpowered by his peers in the film. He plays Jonathon Hutter, a lawyer who is summoned to Count Dracula to sell him a home/homes in the London area. Unfortunately, he can be quite an uninteresting character, continuously trailing behind Mina and Dracula.
And Mina, played brilliantly by Ryder, is the beautiful fiance of Jonathon. She speaks in a soft voice and has a heart of love, deeper than the ocean. Her need for a grandiose love, an overwhelming adoration is relatable to many, and it is her sole guide through life. She acts on love.
There are more captivating characters in this film, like Lucy, that overflow throughout the film- leaving never a dull moment behind them. It is a long film though, totaling 2 and a half hours, but throughout that time span, there are wonderful and visually stunning moments that won it 3 Academy Awards for its production.
The final act, marked with the color of blood-red, ends the film on a high and tragic note. This heightened climax satisfies the audience in every way, and as your sitting on the edge of your chair, hairs raised like fine, sharp pins on your skin, and holding your breath, you experience a heartbreaking performance from Winona that may bring you to the brink of tears.
There hasn't been much negativity that I have to say about this film. Some moments with Jonathon fall flat, and there is so much content packed in the allotted time that there are many questions left unanswered by the end of the film. It can suffer from too much being stuffed down the audiences throats, but the delicate intricacies and the deep care put into every scene of this film makes it all worth it. It is truly one of the most pleasing films to watch if you love set design, costumes, and unbelievably talented acting. And through it all, it is also able to capture a deep emotion in the audience, leaving you a cold, silent feeling afterwards that is hard to shake.
Jacindable Rating: ★★★★
starring, Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, and more
written and directed by, Francis Ford Coppola, James V. Hart, and based off the novel from Bram Stoker