Yeah, I too love Coppola’s Dracula. I like how Ignatiy Vishnevetsky described it: “bubbling cauldron cinema”. Like Ben, I think the “phony” atmospherics are a tremendous strength for the film.
Also a huge, huge fan of Peggy Sue Got Married.
Yeah, I think the “phony” in the film is just Coppola’s version of the decidedly studio-bound atmospherics of earlier adaptations. The interesting change he makes from the novel is he makes Dracula a sort of quasi-immortal romantic hero—the lover spurned by time (while, as Roscoe pointed out, Van Helsing, one of the ostensible heroes of the film, is kinda a dick). Coppola quotes a line from Stoker’s novel in the film when he has one of the brides say “You yourself never loved; you never love,” but then has Dracula answer with “I shall love now,” which isn’t in the novel.
It sounds like I’ll definitely need to check out Dracula. I am a sucker for bombast after all. But perhaps in retrospect I should rephrase my original statement. I don’t disagree with Coppola being considered one of the greats, but I wouldn’t put him in the top 10 or even the top 20. I feel in order to be a great director one needs to have made a consistent output of quality films. I know that idea is unpopular in some circles here, but I feel the strength of an artist can’t be judged on one or two works alone.
I know that idea is unpopular in some circles here, but I feel the strength of an artist can’t be judged on one or two works alone.
I think if I could attach a camera to the head of a dog, setting the camera off remotely and send him on his rounds that I could eventually put together a portfolio of interesting work.
Right away you can see the problem there, though. Do I really need to hold the camera? And if I worked on it over time understanding the route, the timing and being able to edit all the images – does any part of the process take away anything of me being an artist?
When you get to parsing the artist in terms of output, where does it end?
Some are prolific and consistent, some aren’t.
What else do we need to know?
I guess what I am leading to is: Why are the films so highly regarded?
As Matt points out — Dracula’s status as Romantic Hero Mourning A Lost Love is not a part of Stoker’s novel, where he is a monstrous parasite with two motivations — the establishment of a Vampire Empire in London and the acquisition of dinner, not necessarily in that order. He rather callously refers to Mina as his “bounteous wine-press” at one point. And Stoker’s Van Helsing is a saint, no question, unfailingly courteous and polite, closer in fact to Edward Van Sloan’s performance in the Browning film, I think, than any other I can think of. Hopkins unshaved loon is the anti-Van Helsing, and never really takes off for me.
As I recall, and it has been a while, the novel puts a lot of faith in science as a weapon to demolish old-world ignorance, as represented by Dracula.
I don’t see “phony” in the film at all — I see a lot of very deliberate and calculated artifice, all designed to call attention to itself in the loudest possible way, closer to Melies and later works like KWAIDAN (which it specifically references at least once) than Tod Browning’s stately and occasionally stuffy production. When it works, it works splendidly, I think. When it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t last long, and there’s usually something cool coming up in a minute or two.
“closer to Melies and later works like KWAIDAN (which it specifically references at least once)”
Yeah, and it also clearly references Cocteau’s*Beauty and the Beast* at least a couple of times.
agree with Matt and Roscoe basically.
I did not like Dracula at first; in fact, i pretty much hated it. But it did grow on me. apart from the visuals and the deliberate ‘phoniness’, i like the almost disjointed structure too, particularly in the first half. It’s similar to the feeling i get when reading the novel. and of course, anyone that has actually read the novel understands that it’s not the easiest book to translate to film. It’s quite structurally complex, esp for its ‘genre’.
Anyway, Coppola’s film also has some of the greatest set pieces from the time too, at least as far as Hollywood movies are concerned. It definitely loses something on the small screen however.
“Yeah, and it also clearly references Cocteau’s*Beauty and the Beast* at least a couple of times.”
As I remember, the Criterion laserdisc included a whole little featurette of outside references in the film, we’re only scratching the surface.
“It’s quite structurally complex, esp for its ‘genre’.”
In honor of the original Stoker, it does do a nice job conveying the variety of voices that have a stake in the narrative, all revolving AROUND Dracula as the central character and director of events. It also does a good job at different points presenting the idea that the multitude of voices are delivered through diverse media and contemporary technological innovations.
I especially love the moment when Hopkin’s new voice enters from out of the blue: “For the record, I do attest that at this point I Abraham Van Helsing became personally involved with these strange events.”
I only wish the script could keep up the opening hour’s momentum of structural diversity. This kind of begins to get lost as Mina and Dracula grow closer and closer to reuniting.
Oh, also, the Kilar score rules heavy.
“Oh, also, the Kilar score rules heavy.”
Kilar is an underrated composer in general. He also did great work on The Ninth Gate and We Own The Night.
But i’m kind of tired of that Dracula soundtrack to be honest. It just reminds me of 90’s goths ;-)
or more specifically, 90’s goths that i used to see around town. It was such a cliche then to be into the Dracula soundtrack if you were into ‘dark’ music. haha
“But i’m kind of tired of that Dracula soundtrack to be honest. "
Just wait till the “Vampire Hunters” track gets sampled by the right hip-hop producer.
I don’t think no one would dare to compare him to the best directors from nowodays.
“. I like how Ignatiy Vishnevetsky described it: “bubbling cauldron cinema”.”
Kind of describes a few of Coppola’s films though eh?
And not necessarily in the most flattering way either :-)
To give context:
“The Keep seems to exist at the edge of Mann, and also at the edge of cinema, in the same sort of netherworld as David Lynch’s Dune, Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula or Pál Fejös’ Fantômas talkie, some place where edits and dialogue no longer matter, and cinema is a bubbling cauldron out of which rise strange visions in curling smoke. If the film is immediate in its opening, it becomes more mysterious as it goes on, giving neither questions nor answers nor even observations, like a magic lantern show.” -Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
From his Notebook article on The Keep.
God, that’s a good paragraph. Almost make me want to watch THE KEEP again. Almost.
Wow – yes, it really says nothing in a non-confrontational invitational way.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle-ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call Michael Mann’s The Keep
To my recollection, The Keep smokes more than it bubbles.
…it becomes more mysterious as it goes on, giving neither questions nor answers nor even observations,…
This: nor even observations
Why are observations so highly regarded?
You Mann hive-ists should be mocked for defending this, but not by me – I once tried to defend Il Deserto Rosso.
^^It’s cool to love I.D.R though Robert, esp now :-)
Oh phk, ya know what – I meant to say Zabriskie Point, which does suck.
Thanks for pointing that out Joks – Il Deserto Rosso is da bomb.
I enjoy ZABRISKIE in the “bubbling cauldron out of which rise strange visions in curling smoke” kind of way.
Yeah, I like it too Ben, but it is indefensible.
Only when you go to defend it do you realize it sucks.