The movie couldn’t have been more hotly anticipated, thanks largely to a cast including Anthony Hopkins, fresh off of playing Hannibal Lecter in
Then there is the absolutely stunning production design, and the even more gorgeous costume design by Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka. Coppola’s directive for “the costumes to be the sets” yielded outfits you can’t take your eyes off, from Dracula’s red velvet cloak to Lucy’s funeral dress that makes her look like a lizard on the prowl.
The score by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar is also another significant triumph of this film. How good was it? For the rest of the ’90s, outtakes from the score were seemingly used in every other trailer for any movie that was heavy or serious in the slightest. Today, Kilar’s name isn’t as well known as some other film composers, but the score for
And of course, we can’t not talk about Gary Oldman. At the time, Oldman wasn’t terribly well known; if you did know who he was, it was from supporting roles
Yet with all these positives,
For starters, Coppola wanted to be the first person to properly adapt Stoker’s book. If you’ve never read it, you might not realize what a daunting task this is. Stoker’s 1897 novel is written as a series of correspondences, diary entries, and newspaper articles, making the structure very wonky. Such is why most famous adaptations of Dracula, such as those of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, have dumped the epistolary structure for something more straightforward. Because of his need to adhere to the book’s format, the movie feels less like a story and more like a series of scenes strung together, with weird voice overs that come and go.
And yet, despite all these flaws and the overwrought campiness of this film, I keep returning to this movie over and over. Its combination of incredible visual and sonic appeal kind of cast a spell on me every time, and even the bad parts (basically, all the Keanu scenes) give me a chuckle; I wouldn’t place a better actor in the role now even if I could. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth a watch, if only to witness its visual grandeur. Your mileage may vary with this film, but its strengths outweigh its weaknesses for me each and every time. And I can promise you it’s still better than
What do you think of Coppola’s version of
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