It’s incredible to think that 30 years have passed since the original release of Francis Ford Coppola’s directorial take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with a screenplay by James V. Hart, especially with its indelible mark on gothic folklore with the seemingly timeless story of the Transylvanian noble and, of course, Count Dracula’s iconic place in filmmaking. Not only has it received a new 4K UHD release but you can also catch it at a cinema near you, now!
Francis Ford Coppola took a slightly different path into the story of Bram Stoker’s iconic character, as well as the vital presence of Van Helsing, of course. Directing with a love story clearly at the centre, but also an especially unique look into Dracula, Ford Coppola’s film merges numerous filmmaking techniques to create a deeply alluring story, with an intriguing mix of animation and puppetry early on, plus a deep atmosphere of controlled chaos and histrionics from those within the story.
This 4K UHD edition, for the 30th Anniversary, looks good in terms of the strength of feeling and some stellar lead performances. Of course, leading the way is Gary Oldman as Count Dracula himself, and we’ll see him at almost every age and many different forms of the character. The practical effects remain horrifying in the best ways, the visual cortex of this thriller is paramount, and it stands up – mainly because it’s so enticing, and Oldman’s Dracula is as captivating as the stories they’ll make you believe.
If you don’t know, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (in this form), takes us on the journey of the Transylvanian prince as he moves from Eastern Europe to 19th Century London, in his own dirt – because after years of living alone, he’s now pulled to a different shore in the hunt for fresh blood and lost love. Once here, he believes that missing love is Jonathan Harker’s (Keanu Reeves) fiancée Mina Murray (Winona Ryder), and a battle begins to win her back and convince her they can take on eternity together. From here, we’re pulled into his own quest for redemption after damnation, with an epic mix of horror and seductive passion.
As briefly mentioned, Ford Coppola’s film is a wonderous amalgamation of styles, and one of the best parts is the consistent fun he has with shadow play and lighting. Dracula’s shadow moves just a touch independently to its master and lurks in the Castle – and other surroundings – as creepily as he does. Early on, this is particularly fun, alongside intelligent camera angles and hints, setting up the mystery over what’s going to happen. I adored the sound mix as well, with subtle screams and signs filtering through at unexpected moments – as if they’re ethereal voices in air.
While people may comment on Reeves and Ryder’s English accents, I didn’t find them too distracting, especially amongst the high drama and general insanity that follows. With Richard E. Grant’s Doctor, Tom Waits insane asylum prisoner, and Sadie Frost’s intoxicated Lucy, we’re dragged away into such a crazy world, that accentuation isn’t a concern and – once again – the setting and the frenzy that builds and builds, is what this is all about.
Also, despite discussions about Gary Oldman’s state of mind at the time, and more so ‘in-character’ isolation during filming, he gives an epic, timeless performance that enriches the film. He’s equally terrifying and captivating. When we also have Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing loving the role, and giving everything (as he always does), they’re balanced out impressively by Winona Ryder’s innocent and progressive Mina, who’s obviously vital for the story.
For this release, you must delve into Annie Lennox’s Love Song for a Vampire music video, that comes on the 4K UHD, and enjoy the 28-minute Blood Lines: Dracula – The Man, The Myth, The Movies featurette from a few years ago that gives you a great insight into the cast and their mindset at the time. I wonder if we wouldn’t see one as genuinely honest today, as they share their true thoughts on the making of the movie, and about each other, with even Ford Coppola revealing a lot about his processes.
Looking back now, I wonder how much Coppola’s style inspired the likes of David Fincher and Peter Jackson, especially with themes of obsession and complex, intense characters, and I particularly note the Ringwraith-like character that Harker is driven by to the Castle, as well as certain close-up shots and horror vibe that Jackson loves to implement.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula gives us pain and pleasure, blood and life, with vivid imagery and inventive direction that keeps you hooked, even if you’ve seen it before. It remains one of the most fascinating movie depictions of the gothic legend and this horror love story is ideal for the cold, dark months right now.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray in a Limited Edition Steelbook with brand-new extras on 10th October, exclusively from Zavvi or you can pick up a copy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ypGhRf
A full list of cinemas screening BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA is available here: https://parkcircus.com/film/107059-Bram-Stoker’s-Dracula
And a further breakdown of what’s on the release here:
4K ULTRA HD DISC
- Feature presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, including the original theatrical English subtitle font for texted instances
- Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + Dolby Stereo
- Special Features:
- NEWLY ADDED: “Love Song For A Vampire” Music Video by Annie Lennox
- NEWLY ADDED: Blood Lines – Dracula: The Man, The Myth, The Movies Featurette
- Feature presented in High Definition, sourced from the 4K master
- Dolby Atmos audio
- Audio Commentary featuring Director Francis Ford Coppola, Visual Effects Director Roman Coppola and Makeup Supervisor Greg Cannom
- Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola
- Reflections in Blood: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son
- The Blood Is the Life: The Making of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- The Costumes Are the Sets: The Design of Eiko Ishioka
- In-Camera: Naïve Visual Effects
- Method and Madness: Visualizing Dracula
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers