Dracula v. Dracula

This is one of those rare cases where I am going to absolutely champion the film version of the book over the actual book.  After many years of avoidance, I finally read Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula, mostly thanks to the fact that Kindle allows you to download and read thousands of books for free.  (Those that have gone out of copywright, for instance.)  And, after being impressed with the opening third, found the book ultimately wanting.  What for, apparently, is the added touch of romance (and a little tidying of plot) that Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (don't quite roll off the tongue) provides.

Why call it "Bram Stoker's Dracula" if it's more like "We started with Bram Stoker's Dracula, but thought it could use a little work, so..."?  Well, the crux of the story is all very Bram Stoker, from the iconic and creepy image of Gary Oldman's (peerless) Count crawling upside-down the castle wall to the seduction and undoing of classic flirt Sadie Frost, is there.  But wasn't in the original is the glue that holds the story together, that of Mina and Vlad's former-life romance.  At first, this might sound a little outrageous, but in the context of the gothic, horror, supernatural tale, it makes complete sense.  And it works.  When I think about the movie, I think of Oldman and Ryder (Winona, sparkling) in their penultimate scene together -- Dracula pulling away from her saying, "I love you too much."  It's some dramatic stuff that is only heightened by the Scooby gang's interruption and the enflamement of their protection.  When Oldman in full man-bat gear scowls, "You think your *symbols* can frighten me?!", it's so on.

Alas, that Dracula that doesn't shrink from godly symbols is reduced to a monster.  A monster whose motivation to move to England seems to only be to find some western flesh to munch on, whereas in film they solve this by, again, linking Vlad to Mina in a past life.  He's in search of her, not just idle destruction.

This is by no means an indite of Bram's original.  The style (told by journals and newspaper clippings) is surprisingly effective and maintains suspense very well.  But, with a richer film to think about, ultimately I ended up getting a little bored with the straightforward nature of the book. Had I read it first, may have been a much different story for me.

So, chalk this one up as an improvement over the book, surprisingly.

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