Friday, September 01, 2006

Seven reasons that I love BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

Yes--I am going to give you a whole seven reasons! However, before that, I have an annoucement: my main site will be updated early next week, after Labor Day Weekend. My designer and I haven't forgotten about doing it--it's just because of the holiday weekend.

That we go!

In order to get back into the vampire groove for BREAK OF DAWN, my third Vampire Babylon book, I’ve been engaging in the same old tricks: reading fantasy and sci-fi (which reminds me of the importance of world-building complexity) and filling my head with movies to stimulate my "inner eye." One film that I’ve been saving to view while writing this third book is BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. I haven’t seen that gem in years, and watching it once again made me wonder why.

So why does BS’sDRACULA rule? Let’s consider this question in a geek-riddled analysis.

1. The movement. What I mean by this is a certain tone created by how the characters and the scenery themselves move. At times, Francis Ford Coppola filmed the actors backwards so he could give their choreography a certain freakish grace. (Note the scene with Lucy in the crypt as she climbs back into her glass coffin.) Remember how Dracula occasionally floats instead of walks? Or how about those brides of his, creeping along in an erotic yet insect-like dance of entwined limbs? Love, love, love it all. Something else to consider: the movement of the camera, which at times is positioned so that the walls actually seem to suck inward in breathing eeriness.

2. The art direction. A castle shaped like a withered old man sitting on a throne, the decadent Westenra mansion—every scene possesses an amazingly effective tone. In fact, every time I watch this film I see a hundred more details I missed the first time.

3. The transitions between sequences. It’s breathtaking when this movie flows from one point of view to another. Whether it’s a peacock-feather fan splaying over the lens, or an almost subliminal image of Dracula bending over an ailing Mina when his character isn’t physically there, lingering beauty and spookiness serve as preludes to each scene.

4. The costumes. They’re crazy and wonderful, sometimes even anachronistic. A wolf-like suit of armor for Vlad; the orange-red themed, sexually whispered nightdresses for Lucy; an otherworldly bridal gown for our redheaded victim; the sumptuous and rotting clothes of the brides—all stunning, all adding to the unease of the tale that’s unfolding before us.

5. The evocative vibe. Do you all recall the shadows that follow and mock Dracula and Jonathan on the castle walls during the first part of the film? Brilliant. And how about Jonathan’s wolf-howling ride up to Dracula’s castle? Shiver-inducing.

6. The music. Perfect. I can say no more.

7. The hot cast. Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Richard E. Grant, Keanu Reeves. A feast for the hormones. I know I’m leaving out Gary Oldman, and there are a lot of women who dig him, but…nah. I’m way more into the love square with Lucy and her three suitors.

Operatic, romantic, and horrific—DRACULA is one of my top fifteen movies ever.


Y said...

Oh, I totally agree! I loved this movie... it's so emotional and visually gorgeous... a beautiful movie with an outstanding cast.

Thanks for reminding me. :) Now I'm going to have to watch it again sometime. :/

Crystal Green's Blog said...

Y, enjoy! I love how it just never gets old because there's so much to process and love.