Director Francis Ford Coppola returns to the original source of the Dracula myth, and from that gothic romance, he creates a modern masterpiece. It follows the tortured journey of the devastatingly seductive Transylvanian Prince (Gary Oldman) as he moves from Eastern Europe to 19th century London in search of his long lost love Elisabeta (Winona Ryder), who is reincarnated as the beautiful Mina. Anthony Hopkins co-stars as the famed Doctor Van Helsing and Keanu Reeves is Jonathan Harker who is forced to fight the dark forces of Dracula for the love of Mina. Visually stunning, passionately seductive and utterly irresistible, this is Dracula as you’ve never seen him before – a powerful and poignant vampire whose yearning for human love ultimately proves his undoing.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a worthy adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel brought to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola. There are great performances from Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, especially Oldman who as Dracula is brilliant at exuding menace and charisma. Tom Waits does a good job as a bug eating lunatic, Renfield, as does Richard E. Grant in his role as Jonathan Harker’s (Reeves) friend but unfortunately Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder lack the passion that the roles require. Reeves is especially wooden and struggles with the role and the British period accent, only to convey the persona of a lanky plank.
Coppola has tried to stay true to the story by Bram Stoker, while bringing in his own opinions of where Stoker originally based the character of Dracula. Coppola, like many, think Stoker based his character on the sadistic historical figure of Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), a 15th century prince, but this is speculative. Also this adaptation of the story brings in more dark romanticism than is seen in the earlier Dracula films in the way it blurs the lines between good and evil, portraying Dracula more as a love forlorn victim than a monster. Although this version does not exactly follow the book, it is, as far as I know, the best rendition there is. Sumptuous, surreal and excessive, it is a feast for the eyes that does not rely on too much gore to hold the viewer’s attention; the atmosphere, direction, cinematography and some of the acting, achieve this magnificently.
Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula suffers from a small number of failings but I found it very enjoyable to watch despite of these shortcomings.