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Bram Stoker's Dracula

USA 1992, Color, 110 min
Director Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay James V. Hart
Based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Photography Michael Ballhaus
Music Wojciech Kilar
Gary Oldman Prince Vlad Dracula
Winona Ryder Mina Murray/Elisabeta
Anthony Hopkins Prof Abraham Van Helsing / Ships Captain / Cesare
Keanu Reeves Jonathan Harker
Richard E. Grant Dr. Jack Seward
Cary Elwes Lord Arthur Holmwood
Bill Campbell Quincey P. Morris
Sadie Frost Lucy Westenra
Tom Waits R.M. Renfield

In 1492 Vlad, the impaler, better known under the name of Dracula marches into war against theTurkish. He returns victoriously, but in the meantime his wife, thinking he was dead, committed suicide. He invokes to the forces of darkness to get her back. Four centuries later he meets Mina, the reincarnation of the love he lost.

The hitherto last film version of the classic novel by Stoker is at the same time the greatest and most impressive one since Murnaus "Nosferatu" from 1922. Nobody ever stuck that much to the novel as did Francis Ford Coppola what he already lets us know in the title: "Bram Stoker's Dracula" it says. And what a fantastic film the master director serves us here: Cameraman Michael Ballhaus captures an ecstasy of images, that can hardly been surpassed, there's the greatest stars of the 90s, even in smaller roles: Keanu Reeves (for once he even does his job quite well), Winona Ryder, Tom Waits in brilliant scenes as Renfield, Gary Oldman as an impressive Count Dracula and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, giving this role some new aspects. This film offers everything fans of the genres appreciate and was surely able to win over new Dracula fans. It was when watching "Bram Stoker's Dracula" that a whole new generations of vampire fans found access to the well-known story.

A new aspect that was added here was put into the introduction: young Prince Vlad of the order of the dragon successfully defends Transsylvania against the Turkish supremacy and impales his enemies (historical reference to Vlad Tepes). But the defeated Turks send his bride a message of Vlad's death and desperately she jumps from the tower of the castle. Vlad, mad of sadness and rage rams his sword, the blood of his enemies still sticking to it, into the crucifix of his castle's chapel and curses god. From now on blood is to be his elixir of life.

The rest of the story is well known. Beginning with Harker's uncanny journey to Transsylvania and ending with the death of the Count, that has never been realized more dramatically before. Oldman's Dracula is a loving, tragic vampire, who recognized his deceased love Elisabetha in Harkers wife Mina. The sympathy of the spectators is with him, the latest in the scene of his death. It's this drama that makes Coppolas work one of the most beautiful movies of the 90s. He shows us a love story that makes us think of Romeo and Juliet, two lovers that should not find each other.

Now this is great cinema. Horror, Action, Love, Drama and of course literature. With Coppolas film the circle of Dracula film-versions, beginning with Murnau, ending here, finds its completion. Impressive - the first as well as the last one.


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