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AKA: Dracula `79

USA 1979, Color, 110 min

Director John Badham
Screenplay W. D. Richter
Model Hamilton Deane/John L. Balderstone
Photography Gilbert Taylor
Music John Williams
Frank Langella Count Dracula
Laurence Olivier Van Helsing
Donald Pleasence Dr. Seward
Trevor Eve Jonathan Harker
Jan Francis Mina van Helsing
Tony Haygarth Renfield
Duvitski Annie

The movie starts with the arrival of the Demeter in England, the vampire Count Dracula being the only "survivor" of a catastrophe nobody can get to the bottom of. The next night he is invited to have supper with the Seward family. Soon he takes possession of Mina van Helsing whose good health fades away quickly. Only a few days later Dr. Sewards good old friend, Abraham van Helsing has to come to assist to his daughter's funeral. Being an expert knowing quite a lot about the occult he soon recognizes the real character of the smart Count after having put an end to the foul work of his now undead daughter. But the gallant blood sucker is already on his way to the Carpathian Mountains, having his beloved Lucy in his luggage. On the ship that was supposed to bring them to Transsylvania, van Helsing hunts him down. Dracula becomes entangled into a pulley and swinging on top of the mast of the ship he dramatically and effectively turns into dust, where we once again see Murnau's influence.

Badhams Dracula from 1979 differs in quite some aspects from his predecessors. It's not only that Badham has dramatically shortened Stokers novel, him and the author of the screenplay, Richter, changed whole passages, cut out some scenes, added some scenes, all in all, there's a lot that is different from what we have seen so far.

Badham completely leaves out the beginning of the story in Transsylvania and transfers the story to England of the Fin de Siècle. Most of the Characters are completely different as well: here we see Dracula as lonely monarch, yearning for life and company. He doesn't attack his victims but seduces them in a charming and gallant way. Lucy is a self confident young woman who isn't satisfied with the role of the victim. Mina is even Van Helsings's daughter. Similar to Weiland in Brownings movie version, Harker only plays the role of Lucy's lover.

In spite of great stars such as Kate Nelligan, Laurence Ollivier, or Donald Pleasence, in spite of great and impressive pictures and in spite of, or perhaps due to the new aspects brought into the well-known story , in 1979 Badhams Dracula was no block buster. Frank Langella was a new, quite up-to-date Dracula, beautiful and cultivated, but at the same time powerful, for example when he coolly breaks the neck of his servant. Anyway, the fans stay true to "their" Christopher Lee, which is sad, as this quite different Dracula is one of the most original ones.

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