Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Happy Halloween. We celebrated it like we usually do, at home waiting for trick or treaters who never come and watching Francis Ford Coppola's Film Of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

On the first point: in Boston, and now in Eugene, every year that we're in America for Halloween, we buy a bowlful of candy (mini candy bars, because that's what I most loved to get when I was a kid) and hope we'll get trick or treaters. Mrs. Sgt. T, being Japanese, has never had the experience of giving out candy to trick or treaters. It's one of those American things she's always wanted to do, see all the kids in their cute costumes, hearing them say thank you when you toss candy in their orange plastic pumpkins.

But we never get any trick or treaters. Is it because we live in an apartment? When I was a kid we used to love trick or treating apartment buildings - lots of candy in a short time, very efficient. But then again we were always a little nervous, going inside a strange building, where the porch-light-equals-candy code was inoperable. Do today's kids avoid apartment buildings? Or maybe nobody trick or treats anymore at all? Is the world too dangerous for parents to feel safe sending their kids out to knock on strangers' doors? Anyway, this is one more year when we have a bowlful of Almond Joys left at the end of the night. Like we need the sugar.

On the second point: we love Coppola's Dracula, and we make no apologies for it. Yes, Keanu Reeves can't act. Yes, it has an early-'90s big hair vibe. Yes, it goes way over the top. But... Actually, not "but" on that last point. Going over the top is an aesthetic we like, and it certainly helps this film. The operatic love story, the Jesus pretentions of this view of Dracula, the unsubtle Victorian-modernity subtext, the rococo editing techniques... It's all wonderful. It's Coppola's detailed visual genius at its finest.

Two favorite moments:

Dracula chasing Mina around the cinematheque, then he catches her. She faces him, he reaches out to her, and over his shoulder you can see what looks like one of the Lumiere films, a train barreling down the tracks toward the viewer - toward Mina.

And: every scene with Sadie Frost in it as Lucy Westenra. Coppola's version of the story really ramps up the eroticism, in keeping with our current understanding of the vampire mythos, and Frost represents that part of repressed Victorian-modern sexuality that just can't wait to be liberated by the Count. She's on fire with it.

No comments: