Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Great Moments In Movie Shelves #170

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As literary-minded and bookish as Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (which came out 26 years ago today!) is - it's filled with books and letters and the reading of books and the reading of and writing of letters and it does, after all, insert an author's name right there into its title - it's kind of surprising to me that there is hardly a proper library shown in the entire gosh-darn overwrought shebang. With all of these gorgeous sets...

... you'd think they'd have given us a character 
scouring their shelves for a copy of Arabian Nights...

But then the great underlying tension of Coppola's movie is between the written word and the projected image - this is a Movie Movie, riffing on every single cinematic trick in the (dare I say it) book, and it cackles with deranged delight in the process of its own adaptation. It flaunts everything that books cannot - gorgeous actors in glorious over-the-top costumes chewing up Grand Guignol scenery. Why would we see Richard E. Grant taking boring old doctor's notes when...

... we can stare at that insanity instead? I dare you, I triple dog dare you, I "pile of rats in the shape of Gary Oldman" dare you, to pay attention the next time you watch the movie for how many times books and letters are used as transitional spaces...

... or hell, as actual landscapes...

... making the process of adaptation actual (dare I say it) text. Coppola's talking about "Making a movie out of a book" as much as he is talking about anything here, and his kitchen sink post-modernist approach offered every film-maker who came after him a road-map to excessive adaptive success. This is how you do it, folks.

There is one, count it one, library in the movie -- at the law firm where Keanu's Jonathan Harker works at the start of the film, when he's shipped off by his boss to meet with the Count...

... and get the whole sordid ordeal started. I suppose if you wanted to (and I'm saying it here, so I probably want to) you could consider this the moment that the book is taken down off of the shelf, and everything that comes after is coming from between its covers. Also, importantly, Keanu's suit in this scene really kicks ass.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great comments about one of the great horror movies. Also something to keep in mind - the original novel was an epistolary novel comprised totally of letters, journal entries, ship logs and newspaper articles.
Pmac

mrripley said...

It's a great film but with BAD acting from every1 except Oldman who just hams away.

mtmslg said...

LOVE THIS MOVIE!! And while Winona and Keanu are out of their depths, Oldman and Hopkins have a great time chomping on the scenery!