MEME: From Helios to Hollywood – Dracula by Bram Stoker
This weeks post will take a look at
This is a classic that I hadn’t really put much thought into using for From Helios to Hollywood. Then I read a book recently that plays off of the Vlad character (Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost) and decided that I would take a swing at it.
The story of Dracula is actually one that has been done multiple times. My two favorites being the 1992 release Dracula and the 2004 release Van Helsing.
Dracula starred two of my all time favorite actors and was far closer to the book than Van Helsing was. Dracula was portrayed by the unbelievably amazing Gary Oldman.
For those of you living under a rock, you can find Gary Oldman in a number of well known roles including the part of Lee Harvey Oswald in ‘JFK’, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in ‘The Fifth Element’ (one of my favorites), Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale in ‘The Scralet Letter’ (great part but I hate the movie because Demi Moore is a HORRIBLE actress), and most recently as (now) Police Commissioner Gordon in the new Batman franchise. He may also look familiar to the Harry Potter freaks (like me) out there!
Marked as one of his greatest roles, he brought Bram Stoker’s Dracula to life. The book, albeit violent at times, is, when brought down to its most basic factors, a romance. Gary Oldman took the character and made him both terrifying and loveable at the same time. You love him for his devotion to his late wife and the torch he carries for her all the years later and yet cringe at the monster he’s become. It was a great performance.
On the other side of the fence, we have Anthony Hopkins portraying the great Abraham Van Helsing, the man whose name eventually became synonymous with “vampire hunter”. Mr. Hopkins is one of the greatest actors ever and the clash of him and Gary Oldman is priceless. Although Anthony Hopkins does not have his normal intensity in this flick (think Hannibal Lecter), he still gives a stellar performance (more along the lines of his role in ‘Legends of the Fall’ or ‘Meet Joe Black’).
Among the rest of the performers in this movie, you’ll find Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are cast as Jonathan and Mina Harker. On behalf of the makers of this film, I apologize.
These two are probably what I hated most about this movie. Although the movie is good as a whole, these two are the worst actors in the history of acting. The good thing is, the scenes that really matter are usually starring one of the other two aforementioned heavy hitters so you don’t really notice the crappiness that is their ability.
My problem with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder is that they basically play the same exact character in every movie they’re in. The differences come from costume and dialog changes. The personalities just feel the same. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve both been in plenty of movies that I adore but it’s because the story held me, not the “moving performances”.
Even with the Keanu/Winona casting SNAFU, this still reigns as one of my favorite vampire movies and certainly my favorite adaptation of Bram Stoker’s story.
That brings us to Van Helsing – or Dracula’s dumb younger brother of a film.
See, the younger brother may not be the brightest candle in the chandelier but you still love him. That is Van Helsing for me. Not nearly as serious as Dracula was back in the day, Van Helsing also isn’t a straight adaptation of the classic novel. Van Helsing was more of a “mash up” between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstien, incorporating versions of the characters from both stories.
The star of the film is Gabriel Van Helsing (not Arthur) and he’s a monster hunting hitman for the church.
The thing I love about this movie is the cinematography. I am one of those nerds that LOVES seeing unique styles of file direction and feel. No matter what it is, you can always tell a Tarantino flick from a Michael Bay flick from a Robert Rodriguez flick. They have tells to their style. Van Helsing was directed by a guy I have never even heard of – Stephen Sommers – and its pretty cool! The whole movie was written and shot as a sort of homage to old school horror. The style of filming and the lighting – every thing just screams classic horror. Mix classic horror with CGI, Kate Beckinsale’s hair and Hugh Jackman’s abs and you get Van Helsing.
Non stop action and adventure and werewolves and a lab-created monster and acrobatics and ridiculously big hats and beautiful women that turn into horrible fanged beasts that fly…AND DON’T FORGET DRACULA!! A hilarious Dracula, I might add. It’s so much fun!!! Van Helsing may not be a direct take from the pages of Stoker’s tale but it’s a great tribute anyway.
So that’s my take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula from book to film. None that has ever been done is perfect but these are my two favorites.