Bram Stoker’s Dracula Blu-ray Review

Actors: Tom Waits, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Producers: Francis Ford Coppola Charles Mulvehill, Fred Fuchs
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, AC-3, Dolby, Limited Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 6, 2015
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2018
  • Run Time: 127 minutes


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            I’ve always found Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fairly unexciting narrative, if only for the fact that its story has been told enough cinematically to remove any element of surprise. Francis Ford Coppola does his best to remedy this, though he does so by vamping up the art direction and campy sexuality rather than the story. Sadly, the lush photography and over-indulged practical effects does not save the film from the amateurish acting by the younger cast members and the decision to make Dracula a protagonist in search of a lost love. While many movie monsters inspire sympathy in the audience, this has always worked much better with Frankenstein’s monster than with Dracula, and it takes away from the frightening elements of the genre.

     

            Seemingly desperate to compensate for the lack of terror within the narrative, Coppola makes the decision to give Dracula an assortment of grotesque monster appearances. With Gary Oldman under all of the make-up, the undead Transylvanian prince transforms into countless forms, though this is less horrifying when Coppola amplifies the erotic nature of the violence and changes the narrative to become a tragic love story. The result is a rich and lush retelling of Bram Stoker’s tale, even if the strength remains only in the visual storytelling.

     

            Dracula is given a back-story to explain his monstrous condition, and giving him reason to travel from Eastern Europe to London. After the tragic loss of his loving wife, the once living man renounced God and drank human blood. Now he is cursed with this thirst and lives in the solitude of his castle fortress, until the arrival of a young lawyer named Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves). When Dracula discovers that Harker’s fiancé bears a striking resemblance to his long-deceased wife, he departs for England to attempt to win her over.

     

              Though the romance added to the narrative has little impact, the erotic scenes overpower the horror aspects of the story, and even Keanu Reeves and Coppola agree that he was a bad casting choice, there is still no denying the power of the visual filmmaking at work in Dracula. The creativity of the practical effects combined with the richness of the award-winning costume design and make-up work provide reason enough to recommend this 4K mastered high definition presentation. Also exclusive to the latest Blu-ray release of Coppola’s film are all-new interviews with the director. There are also new interviews with his son, Roman, who was brought on to help when other crew members insisted that modern special effects were necessary for the production.

     

            Also included in the extras is a rare commentary track with Coppola, which I assume was originally recorded for the Laserdisc release. This commentary track also includes Roman Coppola and makeup supervisor Greg Cannom, though there is an additional commentary track and introduction to the film done by Francis Ford Coppola alone. There are also an assortment of featurettes, many of which focus on the production elements such as costumes and visual effects. Also included is “The Blood is the Life,” a making-of featurette, a handful of deleted and extended scenes, and the original theatrical trailer.     

           

    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance:  7/10

    Special Features: 8/10




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