Write a reflective paper about the cinematic construction of the vampire, based upon real historical records, and upon the creative vision of 20th Century film directors. Focus on the various representations of Dracula. Was the real Dracula a villain? Why is religion so prominent in the biopic, and not in the classic/film noir/modern versions of the story of Dracula. In your reflection compare how the representation Dracula has change in cinema over the years. Include at least 1 of these films in your reflection as you compare it to a modern cinematic representation of Dracula:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
For your review, please consider the following:
How does the film portray Vlad Tepes? Is he an aristocrat in a tuxedo who lives eternally? What role does religion play in the film, and how does it add to the vampire mythology?
Take some time to view the 1931 and some more contemporary Dracula films. How has the story changed? Does what you learned from the biopic help you to understand how our culture and society have constructed the figure of the vampire? Seek points of comparison – address what is similar, and what is different about the portrayal of the historical nobleman with the Dracula that Hollywood has presented. Seek also points of difference, to show contrasts between “the real Dracula” and the cinematic vampire, or the vampire described by Bram Stoker.
Review the film criticism materials in both the PowerPoint and in the link to Dartmouth college’s “Writing about Film” website. If possible, discuss the film in terms of at least two criteria that writers about film use.
Investigate film reviews online, to get an idea of how people write about films. Do a web search for this, or look at sites like “Rotten Tomatoes”, or read film reviews in popular journalism.
Cinematic Construction of Vampire
The evolution of Count Dracula in the different movies over the ages
The development of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel:
- Vampires were an age old myth, dating back to the Ancient Greek literature
- There have been hundreds of literature over the years that have been developed on the vampire stories
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula set a new theme for the development of the character in the 20th century
- The inspirations of the development of Dracula is said to be drawn from the character of Vlad the Impaler, who was the prince of Wallachia.
- However, the reference is a very loose one, except for the Romanian background or the culture.
- Bram Stoker developer Dracula on his own terms, which drew the figure in a very new light.
- Though the character by Bram Stoker gained popularity in the late 19th century, it was brought to light when the film adaptations of the novel started to appear in the 20th century.
Representation of Dracula in the movies:
- Dracula has been adapted in a number of movies over the years
- However, none of the films have been a direct adaptation of the book
- The films have recreated the characters and the backgrounds according to the needs of the script
- Most of the films have adopted the Scandinavian background
- The character of Dracula has been represented as evil in most of the films.
Evolution of Dracula in Nosferatu (1922):
- Nosferatu is one of the earliest film adaptations of Dracula
- Being the first Dracula movie, the theme and the screenplay had an originality that was never seen before
- The character of Dracula has been represented as a cursed soul, which makes the character more like an animal than an evil human being (Castel, Bourry, Thévenot & Burucoa, 2013)
- However, most of the characters were changed in the film from that of the book
- Nosferatu, being one of the earliest film adaptions have been the inspiration for the movies that were made in the later period of the 20th century.
- However, all the other films lacked the originality and the beautifully rendered artistic view that was presented in Nosferatu.
- The title of the movie Nosferatu has always been considered as a better title by the critics
- The title draws an interest of the viewer, who are more accustomed to the Dracula name
- The frightening image of Count Orlok standing up from the stack of coffins is one of the most iconic horror scenes that has been created
- Max Schrech, who plays the role of the vampire, does not align himself with the polished and aristocratic character of Dracula that were to be played by the actors in the later period of the 20th century
- The animal like make up, portrayed the vampire from the iconic image of the polished and aristocratic image of Count Dracula
- Nosferatu highlighted many social aspects over the religious aspects
- Bram Stoker originally highlighted Victorian values and social issues such as sexuality and plague
- The vampire is represented more as an objectionable rapist than a religiously evil person
- The artistry represented in the film is commendable and is free of the tricks and techniques of the modern cinema
- Tod Browning’s Dracula has been one of the most influential vampire movies of the 20th century
- The casting of Hungarian legend Bela Lugosi was an co-incidental decision after Lon Claney’s death in the middle of the production
- The film was appreciated for its cinematography, which depicted the black and evil behind the character of Count Dracula
- The Transylvanian setting and the startling Castle Dracula created an impact on the audience that was never seen before
- The movie took inspirations from the earlier made ‘Nosferatu’, highlighting the darkness and evil setting, which creates the space for the malice of Count Dracula
- The 1931 edition was the first talking movie of Bram Stoker’s adaptation
- This created a new feeling among the viewers as they could feel Dracula for the first time as a human monster and not as an animal as had been presented in the earlier version
- Count Dracula was presented as a more polished and aristocratic character for the first time and the viewers were exposed to the fearsome evil for the first time (Kirkland 2013)
- The non-English accent of Lugosi created an eerie feeling as it gave Count Dracula the required Transylvanian attitude
- The character played by Lugosi set the character for the later years to come and the aristocracy was imbibed to the character of Count Dracula
- Being the first talking picture of Dracula, the dialogues played a very important part in the development of the film
- The sinister nature of Count Dracula is hidden behind the politeness and aristocracy of Dracula.
- The development of the character is hidden behind the overpowering nature of Dracula, who attracts the people in his embrace before turning them into the dead by drinking their blood
- The film has been inspired by the earlier Nosferatu, but unlike the film it has not addressed the social issues of sexuality (Azzarello, 2016)
- Dracula is more of an evil character who is indomitable in nature and explains vampirism in a more detailed light
- The 1992 film version of the novel by Bram Stoker is perhaps the most famous movie to have been made on the Dracula theme
- The film is based on the legend of Vlad the Impaler
- The film takes a religious viewpoint, where Count Dracula is to be seen aligning with Satan to go against God, who he thinks played trick against him by killing his bride
- The religious background intermingles with the underlying evils of the society such as sexuality and pornography, which were just beginning to strengthen its grip during the late Victorian age
- The film portrayed a more scientific approach along with the religious background with the character of Van Helsing, the famed vampire hunter (Gelder & Weinstock, 2013)
- Van Helsing explains the origins of the vampire and the ways to defeat him
- However, the story lacks some narrative coherency despite the massive sets and cinematography
- The presence of great actors makes the movie a great presentation in an overall manner.
Comparison of the movies:
- All the three movies present the Bram Stoker’s edition in different narratives.
- While Nosferatu depicted Dracula in a very wild and vile manner, the other movies over the period of the 20th century represented Dracula as a more elite and sophisticated aristocrat, who was an bloodthirsty evil
- The character developed significantly over the years and the iconic Dracula character has developed over the prince of Transylvania, Vlad the Impaler
- The storytelling has touched all the spheres such as the problems of the Victorian society to the underlying religious beliefs
Vampires were an age old myth, dating back to the Ancient Greek literature
There have been hundreds of literature over the years that have been developed on the vampire stories
Bram Stoker’s Dracula set a new theme for the development of the character in the 20th century
Several movies have been made over the period of the 20th century
The most famous movies being the Nosferatu, Dracula (1931) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
The comparison and analysis of the movies show that the character has developed over the years to become an iconic evil character of the age
Many more movies have been made on the same theme but none of the movies have from depicting Dracula as an iconic character
Azzarello, R. (2016). Unnatural Predators: Queer Theory Meets Environmental Studies in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In Queering the Non/Human (pp. 165-186). Routledge.
Castel, O., Bourry, A., Thévenot, S., & Burucoa, C. (2013). Bacteria and vampirism in cinema. Médecine et maladies infectieuses, 43(9), 363-367.
Gelder, K., & Weinstock, J. (2013). New vampire cinema. Monsters Monstrous, 123.
Kirkland, E. (2013). Whiteness, vampires and humanity in contemporary film and television. In The Modern Vampire and Human Identity (pp. 93-110). Palgrave Macmillan, London.