How Dracula Has Changed Over the Years
The Dracula evolution has continued to change as new filmmakers and storytellers share their spin of the original story. The Coppola film Dracula was an extremely condensed version of the book. Director Francis Ford Coppola ensured a great production by capturing the elaborate written version into a two-hour visual journey. By implementing not only biblical references but also with the use of sub textual imagery, the movie Dracula gives the audience and accurate snap shot of the original story. Specific directorial choices achieve the film’s goal in displaying the entire cycle of vampire life.
Early in the film, the audience is introduced to the modern day Dracula. The choice to have brought into view the “old” Dracula manifestation as a very old and ancient man conveys, century’s worth of wealth. This is an easy conclusion at face value. But diving deeper into the perceived vulnerabilities of the elderly, Dracula is almost non-threatening with his slow shuffling around and void of color.
Two additional design aspects of the frame are Dracula’s current hairstyle and the color of his robe. His hair set against his head takes the shape of a drawn heart. The actual shape conveying the life-giving organ can be referenced as early as the 13th century, justifying the implied shape into Dracula’s hair grooming standards. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_(symbol) The heart shape hair is also supported by the color of the blood red garment our character is wearing. The specific color of red creates contrast with the concept of life set against the lifeless attributes of dull flesh tones and deep wrinkles.
Coppola uses the frame to covey various messages that support the vampire life cycle. The design of this beast could very easily be based around a werewolf character. That would be a logically assumption with Dracula’s consistent use of the wolves. But the beast also alludes to the evolution of man and of Dracula being stuck in this gap of evolution and time.
The copulation of this mid-evolution beast and the beauty of a fully developed female bridge the space between the two worlds. This space is where Dracula exists. It is also where both science and religion converge as does the image of procreating.
Also, as the wolf-man beast is performing his act, he does it on a bench that shows many architectural designs of alters used in religious ceremonies from many cultures throughout the centuries. Again, the use of blood red garments is exercised to convey what amount of life exists in the character wearing it. It’s flowing movement across our alter creates the imagery of the spilling blood of a sacrifice.
Power in the blood for salvation and everlasting life are the founding themes to Catholicism and other branches of Christian faith. In vampire theory, it acts in the same way with the exception of enteral life being in darkness rather than light. All three images portray Dracula as a Christ like character. With arms stretched out as a crucified Jesus, Menna feeds on his spilt blood in the promise of eternal life. Frames before show Dracula piercing his side to allow the blood to run out the same as it’s portrayed for Christ on Catholic crucifixes.
In addition to the familiar pose in the third image above, the use of falling light is added into the visual design emulating some sort of spiritual transformation. That use of falling light increases as Coppola continue to surge the Christ imagery in the Dracula character. He does this by bathing Dracula now, for the first time in a warm, living, yellow light. In the fourth frame, there is no mistaking the divine presence of something spiritual. However, Coppola does not stop there. He frames the last image of Dracula in an almost identical fashion of many images created of Jesus Christ seeking God’s face from the cross. This is done in a tight shot with Dracula looking up into the heavens.
The vampire story has been shared in many forms. Film director Francis Coppola took on the original story written by Bram Stoker in the feature film format. Though many sections of the original story were not included, the necessary key points were captured. Through effective vision and understanding of the Stoker’s baseline intent, the images created in the film effectively tell the Dracula story for cinema.