The protagonist and story of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula have been widely adapted in films throughout many years. The legendary creature has mesmerized and frighten readers and viewers for nearly a century. Francis Ford Coppola however use the erotic romance of the original novel in order to illustrate a tragic love story in his film Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Bram Stoker has contributed a lot to shaping the modern conception of vampires which we see in films and fiction. Modern people derive their knowledge about vampires from the cinema-not only. Bram Stoker’s Dracula comes closer to the novel than any previous adaptation in spite of the fact that due to production costs and financial restrictions the director can never fully reproduce an entire literary work into a screen version. A young Englishman named Jonathan Harker travels through Transylvania to aid Count Dracula, a Transylvanian nobleman, in buying an English estate. His journey into the remote Eastern European landscape is frightful. Gradually, he realizes that he is a prisoner in Dracula’s castle and that the Count is a demonic being. “Note that the setting is Eastern Europe, the porous region where the East and West intermingle, where Europe gets its tastes of Eastern exoticism, such as the Turks”(Hogan ).
It is said that this book is considered as one of the most famous horror novels and that it possesses all the features of a classic gothic novel. These features are prominent at the beginning with the description of the countryside of Transylvania and of the ruined Dracula Castle: The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests. (Chapter II, 26). In the film when Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) enters in The Carpathian and reads the letter from Count Dracula (Gary Oldman), Dracula’s voice creates a frightful atmosphere as do the eyes that appear at the window of the train. It is dark, there is a storm and wolfs, all this provides the effect of horror.
“The opening four chapters, which constitute the first Transylvania sequence, paint a picture of Eastern Europe as a deeply mysterious world filled with folklore and superstitions offered to the reader through the narrative voice of Jonathan Harker.”(Johnson ) Harker considers the capital of Hungary, Budapest to be the last boundary of the West as he enters the East. After crossing the river everything is culturally different, everyone is superstitious and caught up in traditions: “The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East.” (Chapter I, 1) He notes a number of disturbing details, he finds himself in a strange region, people are very wary of telling him anything of the count or his castle. In the film the scene when the train enters in The Carpathian, it exits a tunnel and almost seems as if it enters a totally different world. “A striking feature in almost all the travelogues and descriptions of Eastern Europe is the image of ambiguity.
These nations – from Poland, through the Baltic lands, to Russia, and southward down to Bohemia, Hungary, Dalmatia, Transylvania and the Balkans, only now united under the common name “Eastern Europe” – are all situated somewhere in-between and disquietingly, not to say monstrously, mixed.”(Kleberg ) Harker changes the last train for horse and carriage, he passes through a landscape where the horizon is strangely broken, “whether with trees or hills I know not, for it is so far off that big things and little are mixed”(Chapter I, 6). Bram Stoker chose to set the plot of his novel in Eastern Europe to underscore the vampire’s liminality and “otherness” by a “matching” place of origin. Dwell on the sources he used in constructing Transylvania. Apart from mythology, he also relied on travellers’ stories and travelogues. How was Eastern Europe perceived by Victorian England in Stoker’s time? on condition that Dracula is largely inspired by Irish mythology because this way he gives it more mystical feel as if his readers are not familiar with this countryside. But Stoker’s Dracula not only sojourns in Transylvania. He also makes his way to England, where he threatens to spread his terrible madness.
“However, one should also remember that Dracula, thanks to his enormous fortunes in pure gold brought from Transylvania, threatens to disrupt the entire London stockmarket.” (Kleberg ) London is the perfect location for Bram Stoker’s Dracula with interesting European castles, rainy and dark weather and mystique streets. London seems to be unknown and mysterious and it is the perfect gothic setting for Stoker’s Dracula. “Dracula is a masterpiece of horripilation. Its carefully wrought narrative intermixed diaries, letter, journals, and extracts from newspapers, suggesting a new kind of myth-making.” (Sanders, Andrew) Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula has been the single most important influence on twentieth-century representations of vampires. Count Dracula, the king of the undead, has been reborn in countless film adaptations although many wander away from the storyline of Stoker’s original. Released in 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a successful reimagining of Stoker’s gothic masterpiece.
Sanders, Andrew. The shot Oxford history of English literature. Oxford University Press Inc., New York, 1994
Hogan,Ronald. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Review, 10 December 1992 web. 20 June 2012 http://www.killermovies.com/b/bramstokersdracula/reviews/qs.html
Johnson, Allan. “Modernity and Anxiety in Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. 20 June 2012 http://salempress.com/store/pdfs/dracula_critical_insights.pdf
Kleberg, Lars. “In Search of Dracula or, Cultures in Dialogue”. Postcolonial Europe, 20 June 2012 http://www.postcolonial-europe.eu/index.php/en/studies/89-in-search-of-dracula-or-cultures-in-dialogue