Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Adaptation, Please: Dracula

"I loved Dracula.  As I said in my reflection, it is one of the best books I've read this year.  I also mentioned how it is so interesting to me to read the source material of some of our cultural icons—like Dracula or Frankenstein's monster—and see how misunderstood they are and how far adaptations deviate from their inspirations.  While reading Dracula I couldn't help but envision the incredible film it could be adapted into.  It has literally everything a talented filmmaker would need to create a visual tale that could leave an indelible impression. 

I realize Dracula has already been adapted into several films, perhaps the most famous being Nosferatu.  In fact, several days after finishing Dracula I stumbled across Argento's Dracula 3-D on Apple Movie Trailers, which made me laugh incredulously as I acknowledged once again how badly some of our literary characters are represented.  What I would like to see from yet another film adaptation of Dracula is a denial of the urge to turn Dracula into a story that appeals to our baser desires.  For example, a film like Bram Stoker's Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, was hyper-sexualized, which the book is not, and gratuitously bloody, which the book is not.  Are there undertones of sexuality?  Of course!  Dracula is the ultimate predator.  In fact, I would even argue that Dracula's original story had undertones of pedophilia.  But the film is not explicit in any way.  In fact, the book has no sexually explicit scenes, because it's entirely unnecessary for the story's purpose, and only several scenes of blood; however, the graphic nature of those scenes serve to make the characters' trial, and by extension the audiences' involvement in them, that much more grueling.

A true adaptation of Dracula should focus on what the book focuses on—characters.  One of the central elements of the book is the love that is shattered by the creature Dracula and how to save the love he tries to shatter.  It's about honorable men trying to save the noble women they love from a dishonorable influence.  I think an actor like Michael Fassbender would be an outstanding choice to play Arthur Holmwood.  His struggle in particular is especially tragic as he watches his beloved Lucy fall prey to Dracula's diabolical desires and eventually has to be the instrument of her eternal soul's rescue.  What a true film adaptation should not do is spend too much time on Dracula.  He is the cause of the conflict in the book but not the point of it.  The true point, the reason to read or the reason to watch, are the people Dracula is terrorizing and their eventual triumph over him.  That would be a huge deviation from previous film adaptations and the film would be better for it.

I would love to see another film adaptation of Dracula, but not the kind of film adaptation we've gotten in the past.  Nosferatu at least captured the feeling of Dracula's presence, but there is no other film adaptation I'm aware of that truly captured the brilliance of Stoker's dark tale.  It deserves another attempt, a better attempt.  It's good enough to justify it."

Other Topics of Interest:
Adaptation, Please: Mistborn
Adaptation, Please: The Candy Bombers
Reflections: Dracula

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