Coppola's Adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula
The legendary creature Dracula has mesmerized readers and viewers for nearly a century. In Bram Stoker's masterpiece, Dracula, the infamous monster affects each reader in a different way. Some find the greatest fear to be the sacrilegious nature of his bloodsucking attacks, while others find themselves most afraid of Dracula's shadow-like omnipresent nature. The fascination with Dracula has assimilated into all parts of society. Dracula can now be seen selling breakfast cereals, making appearances on Sesame Street, and on the silver screen. Countless film adaptations of Stoker's original novel have been undertaken by the some of the most skilled directors in Hollywood including, Francis Ford Coppola who completed a film adaptation of Dracula in 1993.
In creating his film, Coppola strived to create a film that remained true to Stoker's original creation. In fact, he insisted upon calling the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula, but in reality the movie fell well short of his lofty goals. Coppola realized the complexity of Dracula's character and hoped to combine all of the irresistible qualities that have made him legendary. Coppola however, became too attached to the loving seductive nature of Dracula and neglected the monster's horror. Stoker's original novel centers on the fear Dracula creates and the omnipotent nature of his existence. Dracula only directly appears in the novel a few places. The majority of his existence occurs on a sub textual level, which starkly contrasts the most recent film version.
In Coppola's film, Dracula has a very active and visual role in almost every scene. It is quite understandable the temptation Coppola had of showing Dracula as much as possible in the film. However, the most fearful aspect of Dracula is what we cannot see. The possibility that Dracula might be lurking around a corner or hovering above at any moment is what gives the reader/viewer the greatest fear. Coppola focuses too much upon the personal struggles of Dracula himself and the audience feels a great deal of pity towards Dracula. The genius of Stoker was that his Dracula caused readers to feel both sympathy and at the same time hatred towards the monster. James Craig Holte illustrates this point when he says:
As Stoker recognized, classic horror is close to tragedy, and in a work of classic horror, there are elements of pity and fear, pity for the vampire's situation but fear of his menace. Careful readers of Dracula are at the same time sympathetic to and repelled by Dracula. Coppola, despite the best of intentions, creates a work in which there is far more pity than fear; the sympathy finally overwhelms the repulsion. (Holte 85)
The foundation of Coppola's film is based upon the love between Dracula and Elizobeta, and later upon the love between Dracula and Mina. His beloved Elizobeta commits suicide in his castle upon erroneously hearing of his death....