Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Your Friend D.

Having gone to fight in the crusades Vlad the Impaler (Gary Oldman) returns to discover that his beloved has committed suicide having heard rumour of his death. Angered Vlad turns his back on God and embraces vampirism. Four centuries later and Vlad now known as Count Dracula is still living in the East but is buying up property around London, England which is why Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) makes the journey to see him as he must get some papers signed. But it seems that Harker's girlfriend Mina (Winona Ryder) is a dead ringer for Dracula's one true love and he heads to London to seduce her.

Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is one of those movies which I have always thought was a movie which all the elements work but they don't work together as a coherent piece of entertainment. It means that whilst Coppola has certainly delivered an entertaining movie it is one which almost suffers from having a split personality, frequently coming close to parody in some places whilst impressively dramatic in others.

Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Now I have never read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" so I don't know how loyal Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is but I find it difficult to believe that he has remained that loyal due to the exaggerated nature of some of the story elements in this version. What I will say is that he has delivered a visual spectacle with stunning sets, great costumes and impressive effects be it the way Count Dracula glides across a room to the ways fangs grown in his open mouth. In fact much of what impresses visually when it comes to "Bram Stoker's Dracula" revolves around the look of Count Dracula, be it when he is old and cloaked in red or when he his a long haired gentleman in London with some cool blue tinted glasses.

But whist visually "Bram Stoker's Dracula" looks great there are the characters and Keanu Reeves' English gentleman, Jonathan Harker, is straight out the worst 70s Hammer horror. It doesn't work at all and neither does Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra as she is ridiculously over the top and giggly as is Carl Elwes, okay not so much giggly but almost smarmy. And when Winona Ryder is in a scene with Reeves or Frost her performance comes across more at home in a Carry on movie. In fairness the dialogue doesn't help matters and even Anthony Hopkins struggles with some of the intentionally humorous dialogue.

And that hints at the problem because for everything which is good about "Bram Stoker's Dracula" there is something bad, so when a scene looks great the then humour of the character or a funny line spoils it. I suppose in many ways it comes down to making "Bram Stoker's Dracula" appeal to a mass public and going for purely dark would simply be too heavy. It is the same with the casting as whilst Gary Oldman is fantastic through out you get a sense that Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder's casting was more a case of appealing to the masses.

What this all boils down to is that the impressiveness of the production and the performance of Gary Oldman is what makes "Bram Stoker's Dracula" an entertaining and memorable movie. But at the same time there is plenty which is wrong with "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and the humour from the characters and some of the dialogue give it almost a split personality.