Coppola's Interpretation of Dracula as a Love Story
The protagonist and story of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula have been widely interpreted and adapted in films throughout many years. Despite almost a century of time since the initial publication, Dracula has maintained its ability to frighten and mesmerize readers. Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula; however, utilizes the erotic romance of the original novel in order to depict a tragic love story. The film accurately follows the general plot of the novel, yet presents the characters in a unique manner that provides for a different appreciation of the characters.
Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Stoker's novel begins with the presentation of how Dracula became an immortal creature doomed to thirst for the blood of living animals. This story is essential to the interpretation of Dracula in Coppola's film. Dracula was a knight in the sacred army of the church, who left his wife in order fight against an invading Turkish army. He was successful in preventing the invasion of the Turks, yet they retaliated by sending his wife, Elizobeta, a letter that falsely reported his death in the battle. Upon hearing this tragic news, Elizobeta committed suicide by jumping into a river. When Dracula returns from the battle he discovers that his beloved wife is dead, and when the church tells him that her soul cannot be saved because she had taken her own life, he turns against the church and renounces God for betraying him. Dracula strikes the stone crucifix behind the altar in the church, which causes blood to gush from the stone. Dracula drinks the blood and vows to oppose God for eternity, whereby causing himself to become eternally damned as a vampire. The most important element of this account is that Dracula turned against the church because it refused to forgive his beloved wife; thereby revealing that Dracula was willing to sacrifice his own soul for the woman that he truly loved. This characterization of Dracula as a devoted lover was the dominant goal of Francis Ford Coppola. James Holte states that in Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Film and the Legend, Coppola writes
"Doing Justice to the complex character of Dracula was one our main goals. He's been portrayed as a monster or as a seducer, but knowing his biography made me think of him as a fallen angel, as Satan...
Blood is the symbol of human passion, the source of all passion. I think that is the main subtext in our story. We've tried to depict feelings so strong they can survive across the centuries, like Dracula's love for Mina/ Elizabeth. The idea that love can actually give back to the vampire his lost soul" (Holte 82).
This portrayal of Dracula as a complex character is the basis for the differences in the presentation between Stoker's original villain and Coppola's adaptation.
Because Coppola wanted to show Dracula more as a fallen angel equal to Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, the...