Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker - Horror Fiction NovelistDracula is a horror fiction story, written in 1897 by Irish novelist Bram Stoker. The novel is composed of letters and journal entries written by the story's main protagonists. Stoker found the name Dracula in a history text, and used some of this historical facts to make his novel even more horrific. The story of Count Dracula has been the inspiration for numerous movie versions in the later 20th century, when it reached its classic legendary iconic status.

Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was a theatre critic and writer of short stories and novels (picture on the left). Stoker was a sickly bed-ridden child until the age of seven, when he fully recovered. After college Stoker married a celebrated beauty and actress Florence Balcombe, and theirs only son was born. Bram Stoker died in London, and was cremated. His ashes were placed in an urn at Golders Green Crematorium, and later mingled with his son's ashes in 1961.

The Book

Count DraculaYoung English solicitor, Jonathan Harker, arrives to Count Dracula's remote castle in mountains of Transylvania. At first impressed with Count's gracious manner, Jonathan soon finds out that he has become a prisoner, and discovers some disquieting facets of nocturnal life in the castle. Searching for a way out, one night he falls under the spell of the brides of Dracula, three female vampires. He is saved at the last minute and barely escapes with his life.

Short time afterward, Count Dracula arrives on the shores of England, shrouded in secrecy, during a fierce tempest. Soon he is menacing Jonathan, his devoted fiancee Mina, and her vivacious friend Lucy. Lucy begins to suspiciously waste away and the old Professor Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of her condition. Too late, she is dead and buried, but soon afterward a child is stalked in the night by a beautiful lady. Van Helsing knows that Lucy has become a vampire, and tracks her down with his friends: they behead her, stake her heart, and fill her mouth with garlic. Dracula takes revenge by biting Mina at least three times, creates a spiritual bond between them and controls her.

Dracula flees back to Transylvania, Van Helsing and Jonathan follow him, track him down before sundown and stab him in the heart. When Count Dracula crumbles to dust, the spell is lifted and Mina is now free. The book ends with the Mina's and Jonathan's marriage and the birth of their son.

Movies

Max Schreck as Count DraculaThe first motion picture adaptation of Stoker's book was made in 1922: F. W. Murnau's German horror movie called Nosferatu, which placed the story of Dracula in Transylvania and Germany. Dracula's role was played by Max Schreck (whose name means 'fright'). Stoker's estate sued the authors for copyright infringement and won the lawsuit, all existing copies of Nosferatu were destroyed. However, some pirated copies survived to the present, when they entered the public domain. In 1979 Nosferatu was remade by Werner Herzog.

In 1931 Tod Browning made one of the most famous versions of the story (starred Bela Lugosi as Dracula), which is commonly considered a horror classic. The United States Library of Congress in 2000 deemed the movie "culturally significant" and preserve it in the National Film Registry. The original copies had music only during the opening and closing scenes.

In 1958, Hammer Films produced a new, more Gothic version of Dracula, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It is considered one of the best versions adapted to movie, and in 2004 named by the Total Film magazine as the 30th greatest British film of all time. It takes a number of liberties with the original plot. A charismatic performances of Lee and Cushing and the creepy atmosphere make it memorable. In the United States it was released as Horror of Dracula which was followed by a series of movies, usually featuring Lee as Dracula.

In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola directed a new version of the movie, called Bram Stoker's Dracula (click the picture on the right to see the trailer), starring Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves , Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. This version contains an additional story telling how Dracula (the historical Vlad Tepes in this case) became a vampire. Mina was revealed here to be the Count Dracula's greatest love, which is not part of Stoker's original. 'Love Song for a Vampire' was sung by Annie Lennox.

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