I must have last watched this film back in 1992 when it was released, the year I went to live in Hong Kong!
When I watched this film yesterday on Prime Video I was engrossed as I was all those years ago. A timeless classic, yes. A masterpiece? Most definitely. What else do you expect from the man who brought us so many wonderful films such Apocalypse Now and The Godfather, the mighty Francis Ford Coppola.
Starring Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Winona Ryder as Mina, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing and the GREAT Gary Oldman as Dracula.
I am always interested to see how American actors sound when they play British characters, their accents. Only a few times did Keanu Reeves slip, but I noticed that Winona Ryder maintained her perfect English accent throughout. What a lady!
As I have learnt more about Dracula over these past few months, especially the way the characters interact, I can see that Jonathan Harker is, in a way, the straight man to Dracula’s monster. I found him originally quite drippy and dull, but, actually it makes Dracula way MORE scary and Jonathans seduction scene by the temptresses more shocking for his character. Harker and Dracula, complete opposites fighting for Mina.
Favourite scenes? There are so many… but… here goes…
- Puppet stick style fight scenes.
- The eyes in the sky as Harker travels on train through Europe.
- Dracula slicing the sword between his palm, exposing his long fingernails .
- The shadow separating from Dracula and looming behind Harker.
- The sounds of bats flapping their wings throughout.
- Dracula’s slide over to Harker in the shaving scene, then licking the knife.
- Tears forming into diamonds.
One that REALLY sticks out as being possibly the most sensual scene in cinematic history is when Prince Vlad whispers to Mina “See me now”. How could she resist?
A massive shout out to Sadie Frost as Lucy, the siren, who was first on Vlads list to sink his teeth in. The scene with her being beheaded and then Van Helsing nonchantly informing Jonathan and Mina of her demise while carving a roast beef was sheer genius.
Tom Waits as Renfield deserves a huge shout out too, his character, based in a Victorian asylum was just so brilliantly executed. His death was a little unsatisying to me, he was flung at his cell door a few times and that was it. I especially liked the way the wardens were walking around with steel cages on their heads.
Such a touching moment between Vlad and Mina, is when he declares “there’s no life in this body” as he places her hand on his heart. “Drink and join me” they exchange blood, even though he tries to hold back for a second to protect her, but they both can’t resist the temptation and love they have for each other. To be fair to Mina, I think I would have gone that route too if all I had was drippy Jonathan waiting for me back home.
As I scroll through my notes, I realised there would be so much more I could say and favourite scenes I could pull out, it would simply take forever. One last thing I wanted to point out though is that I’ve read that Gary Oldman didn’t like his performance as Dracula and felt he didn’t give it his best, but to me, he has been the best Dracula to grace our screens.
This is a MUST on your dracula list.
A few takeaway notes for me:
1) I need to know the origin of Van Helsing’s scar over his left eye.
2) I need to go to Whitby Abbey (in which Carfax Abbey is based on).
Till next time x