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Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula (aka Dracula) is a 1992 horror-romance film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It stars Gary Oldman as Count Dracula in an ensemble cast, also featuring Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. The score was composed by Wojciech Kilar and the closing theme song "Love Song for a Vampire" was written and performed by Annie Lennox. The film won three Academy Awards in 1993.

Plot

The film begins in a prologue, where Vlad III the Impaler defeats an overwhelming Turkish invasion in 1462. Upon returning home, he finds his beloved wife Elisabeta (Ryder) dead, having committed suicide upon hearing the false reports of Vlad's death in battle. Enraged at his wife being eternally damned as a suicide, the former devout Christian Dracula desecrates his chapel and renounces God, declaring that he will rise from the grave to avenge Elisabeta with all the powers of darkness.

Four centuries later, Jonathan Harker (Reeves), a law firm clerk, travels to Transylvania to arrange the transfer of Carfax Abbey in London, Count Dracula's (Gary Oldman) newest real estate acquisition. At the castle, full of bizarre, unnatural features and shadows that move by themselves, Harker meets Dracula, a wrinkled, pale old man in brilliant red robes. During the final signing of the real estate papers, the Count caresses a picture of Harker's fiancée Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray (Ryder), the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Elisabeta. Dracula then sets sail on the ship Demeter to England, leaving Harker captive by Dracula's insatiable and bloodthirsty Brides, who systematically drink his blood, leaving him weak and unable to escape.

Dracula arrives in London in a box of his native soil, which is transported to the Abbey, where Dracula emerges to ravish and drink the blood of Mina's best friend, Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost). Dracula, now a young and handsome prince, meets and gradually charms Mina, but refuses to bite her, instead offering her absinthe to aid her recollection of her past life. As the two fall deeper in love, Lucy's deteriorating health and noticeable behavioral changes prompts suitors Quincey Morris (Bill Campbell), Dr. John Seward (Richard E. Grant) and Arthur Holmwood (Cary Elwes) to summon Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins), who during a blood transfusion recognizes Lucy as a vampire victim. In Transylvania, Harker escapes to a convent and writes to Mina, who is now overjoyed to marry him. Dracula, grief-stricken and enraged, murders Lucy to transform her into one of his vampire brides.

After Lucy's funeral, Van Helsing leads Arthur, Seward and Morris to the family crypt, where Lucy has risen as a vampire. Horrified, the group drives a metal stake through her heart and decapitates her. Newlyweds Harker and Mina return to London and join Van Helsing, Seward, Morris and Arthur in hunting Dracula. They arrive at Carfax Abbey and destroy his boxes of soil. The Count, who watches from the shadows, travels to Mina and confesses that he is dead, a hunted creature and the murderer of Lucy. Despite her rage, Mina still loves him and wants to be with him. As she begins drinking blood from Dracula's chest, the Vampire Hunters burst into the bedroom, with Dracula claiming Mina as his bride before disappearing into the shadows. As Mina begins changing the same way Lucy had, Van Helsing hypnotizes her and learns via her connection with Dracula that he is sailing home. The Hunters depart for the port of Varna via train to intercept him, but discover that Dracula has read Mina's mind and evades them. The Hunters split up, with Van Helsing and Mina traveling to the Borgo Pass and the Castle, while the others try to stop the Gypsies transporting Dracula.

At night, encamped at the castle, Mina begins changing as the Brides hover nearby. After attempting to seduce Van Helsing she bares fangs, but is rebuffed with a piece of Holy Wafer. As she returns to her human form, Van Helsing surrounds them both with a ring of fire, warding off the Brides until morning, when he wearily infiltrates the castle and kills the Brides as they sleep. Hours later, as sunset approaches, Dracula's carriage appears on the horizon, driven by Gypsies and pursued by the Hunters. Dracula, sensing Mina's presence, telepathically commands her to summon a spell that casts harsh winds to impede the Hunters. The carriage finally arrives at Castle Dracula and a great fight that pits the Hunters vs the Gypsies. One Gypsy coats a knife with chloroform and stabs Morris, gravley injuring him. Just as the Hunters kill the last gypsy, the sun sets and Dracula bursts from his box. He fights with supernatural strength but cannot overpower Harker, who slits the Count's throat with a kukri knife while Morris stabs him in the heart with a Bowie Knife. As the Count staggers, Mina rushes to his defense with a rifle. Arthur tries to attack but Van Helsing and Harker allow her to retreat with the Count, turning instead to Morris, who passes out from exhaust and the chloroform surrounded by his friends.

In the castle, in the very chapel where he renounced God, Dracula lies dying. His appearance reflecting his ancient age, his face demonic, he rebuffs Mina's attempts to pull the knife from his heart. They share an intimate kiss, as the candles adorning the chapel miraculously light, and the desecrations he committed on the altar are repaired. God forgives Dracula, whose youthful appearance and humanity returns. As he asks Mina to give him peace, she shoves the knife through his heart and decapitates him.

Deleted scenes

There were an estimated 38 cuts from the movie before it was released theatrically. The large sum of cuts took place after test audiences reacted negatively to the original version. Recently, there have been copies of an uncut version circulating on eBay. Called the "Director's Cut," this version features 10-15 minutes more footage than the current 122-minute version. Much of the deleted footage and dialogue can be seen and heard in the theatrical trailer. Photos of deleted and alternate footage can be seen in the official movie book, trading cards, and comic series. Photos of the "Director's Cut" can be seen at http://www.schnittberichte.com./schnittbericht.php?ID=1106. This site shows photos from the alternate opening, numerous extended scenes, and Winona Ryder's deleted nude scene with Anthony Hopkins.

A new 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD was released on October 2, 2007. The new edition includes an introduction and commentary by director Coppola, four documentaries, deleted and extended scenes, as well as trailers. The release was also issued on Blu-ray.

Television edit

In 1997, an edited version of the film was broadcast on the FOX network. This version cuts out the character of Renfield entirely. Other edits and changes are the introduction of the Brides, who are clothed in rags as opposed to their seductive nude scene in the theatrical version. Alternate footage of the Brides wearing clothes was filmed when they first emerge out of the sheets to feed on Harker. It also cuts out Dracula giving them the infant to feast on; instead Dracula converses with them about finding love. Scenes of Lucy's introduction have been re-dubbed due to her quirky remarks and the illustrations in the Arabian Nights book have been blacked out. Also, a part of Mina and Lucy’s later conversation in the garden as well as shots of the vessel Varna and Dracula howling as the wolf creature have been taken out completely.

The first attack of Lucy is shortened in the televised version. It cuts out some footage of Lucy walking around the maze and Mina calling and searching for her. Dubbed in is Mina calling "Lucy" several times more. Also cut is the scene in which Mina sees Dracula "raping" Lucy. Instead it appears that he just bites her throat. Also, Lucy's clothes aren't torn. In several scenes Lucy has violent fits, causing her chemise to fall open displaying one or both of her breasts. In the televised version she is portrayed with chemise intact due to digital paint and clever editing. Lucy's destruction is only hinted at and heard, but never shown.

Several scenes regarding Van Helsing have been removed, and his exorcism of Carfax Abbey has been trimmed. Shots of Mina drinking from Dracula's heart are shortened. The seduction of Van Helsing, and the destruction of the Brides are kept intact. Towards the ending the final shot of the sword piercing Dracula has been trimmed to eliminate blood flow.

In 2002, American Movie Classics showed another edited version of the film, this one shown with all edits as mentioned above, but with other small minor cuts and added footage. They include:

  • The character of Renfield is in this version, and plays a crucial part.
  • More dialogue between Jonathan and Mr. Hawkins in the opening scenes.
  • A scene of Dracula looking mournfully at Jonathan in the castle.
  • Lucy's attack including the footage of her in the garden sleepwalking. The only cut being her nightgown whistling in the wind, and of Dracula's apparent rape.
  • Added moans after Dracula first bites Lucy.
  • The Van-Helsing introductory scenes are kept.
  • Lucy's staking is intact but her beheading is only hinted at.
  • In the final battle the knife slashing Dracula's throat has been trimmed by a few seconds to not show the graphic blood.
  • The beheading of Dracula by Mina has been altered. A scene that shows her looking at the dead Dracula with the knife protruding from his heart has been added, and then it cuts to her be-heading him. The camera is then focused on her as she stares upward cutting out the scene of Dracula's head falling.

In addition to these cuts, this version was presented without commercial interruption.

Reception

The critical reaction to Bram Stoker's Dracula was generally positive, but it received a number of unenthusiastic reviews from those who felt that the film was not entirely faithful to the novel. Additionally, Keanu Reeves was widely criticized for his portrayal of Jonathan Harker. Nonetheless, the film was a notable box office hit, grossing $82,522,790 domestically and $133,339,902 overseas for a total worldwide gross of $215,862,692. Gary Oldman's portrayal of Dracula was lauded by many critics and won him the Saturn Award for Best Actor. The movie also had a significant cultural impact and spawned various merchandise (see below).

Awards and honors

Merchandising

  • Merchandising for the film included a board game, a pinball game, and video game adaptations for the Super Nintendo, NES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Amiga, and Sega CD.
  • A four-issue comic book adaptation and 100 collectible cards based on the movie were released by the Topps company (known for originating the Mars Attacks franchise). The art for the comic was provided by Mike Mignola, the creator of the comic book and later movie character Hellboy.
  • Various action figures of characters from the film were also produced.

Notes

External links

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