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Dracula’s Times: Adapting the Middle Ages in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula

  • Cordula Lemke
Chapter
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Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Critics hardly ever agree. But in the case of Francis Ford Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula1 the verdict is almost unanimous: It is one of the worst adaptations in film history. Critics do not tire to point out how often Coppola gets Stoker wrong2 and even those who enjoy the film still criticize it for its lack of fidelity to the novel.3 Coppola’s film has lured critics back into a heated and all-encompassing debate on the issue of faithfully translating literary texts into filmic versions; and Coppola’s own claim to having presented the first accurate adaptation of Stoker’s novel—hence the title Bram Stoker’s Dracula—has merely exacerbated the problem: “Just as Dracula sucks (as is in his nature), so does this motion picture as an adaptation.”4

Keywords

Love Story Color Symbolism True Love Frame Narrative Freedom Fighter 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Love Never Dies, dir. Francis Ford Coppola (US: Columbia Pictures, 1992).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Lyndon W. Joslin, Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker’s Novel Adapted, 1922–2003 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2006), p. 123;Google Scholar
  3. Iain Sinclair, “Invasion of the Blood,” in Film/Literature/Heritage: A Sight and Sound Reader, ed. Ginette Vincendeau (London: bfi Publishing, 2001), p. 102 [101–4].Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    See Norbert Borrmann, “Auf der Suche nach dem Original: Francis Ford Coppolas Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992),” in Der Vampirfilm: Klassiker des Genres in Einzelinterpretationen, ed. Stefan Keppler and Michael Will (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2006), p. 151 [137–51];Google Scholar
  5. Jean Marigny, “Dracula: Tradition and Postmodernism in Stoker’s Novel and Coppola’s film,” in Post/Modern Dracula: From Victorian Themes to Postmodern Praxis, ed. John S. Bak (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), p. 103 [95–106].Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    James M. Welsh, “Sucking Dracula: Mythic Biography into Film, or Why Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula Is Not Really Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Wallachia’s Dracula,” in The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation, ed. James M. Welsh and Peter Lev (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007), p. 172 [165–73].Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Sarah Cardwell, “Adaptation Studies Revisited: Purpose, Perspectives, and Inspiration,” in The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation, ed. James M. Welsh and Peter Lev (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007), p. 59 [51–63].Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Thomas M. Leitch, “Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been?” in The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation, eds. James M. Welsh and Peter Lev (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007), p. 332 [327–33].Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    Fredric Jameson, “Afterword: Adaptation as a Philosophical Problem,” in True to the Spirit: Film Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity, ed. Colin MacCabe, kathleen Murray, and Rick Warner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 230 [215–33].Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    O’Flinn points out that all anger at the authenticity, which Coppola’s title suggests is simply a misunderstanding as Coppola could not use the title Dracula for copyright reasons. Paul O’Flinn, “‘Leaving the West and Entering the East’: Refiguring the Alien from Stoker to Coppola,” in Alien Identities: Exploring Difference in Film and Fiction, ed. Deborah Cartmell, I. Q. Hunter, Heidi Kaye, and Imelda Whelehan (London: Pluto Press, 1999), p. 77 [66–86]. 9. See Marigny, “Dracula,” p. 103.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    See Carol A. Senf, Dracula: Between Tradition and Modernism (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998), p. 55.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    The role of women in the film has been perceived as traditional or liberating. See Michael Meyer, “Die Erotik der Macht und die Macht der Erotik: Bram Stokers und Francis Ford Coppolas Dracula,” in Der erotische Film: Zur medialen Codierung von Ästhetik, Sexualität und Gewalt, ed. Oliver Jahraus and Stefan Neuhaus (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2003), p. 132 [131–51].Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bram Stoker, Dracula, ed. Maud Ellmann (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008), p. 378.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    See Christoph Houswitschka and Michael Meyer, “Vampir und Voyeur: Zur selbstref lexiven Inszenierung der Angst- und Schauerlust,” in Kontext Film: Beiträge zu Film und Literatur, ed. Michael Braun and Werner Kamp (Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 2006), p. 181 [172–94].Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    For the “last of the race”motif, see Fiona Stafford, The Last of the Race: The Growth of Myth from Milton to Darwin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Coulardeau shows that in the film all religious paraphernalia fail as protection against vampires. Jacques Coulardeau, “The Vision of Religion in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” in Post/Modern Dracula: From Victorian Themes to Postmodern Praxis, ed. John S. Bak (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), pp. 132–33 [123–39].Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    See Sarah McNamer, “Feeling,” in Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 243 [241–57].Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    Burt goes even further and claims that the stylized war scenes of the frame narrative are the scenes from the shadow play we encounter later. Richard Burt, Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 30.Google Scholar
  19. 23.
    Harm Goris, “Interpreting Eternity in Thomas Aquinas,” in Time and Eternity: The Medieval Discourse, ed. Gerhard Jaritz and Gerson Moreno-Riaño (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), p. 194 [193–202].Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008), pp. 11, 11, 13.Google Scholar
  21. 28.
    Richard Dyer, “Dracula and Desire,” in Film/Literature/Heritage: A Sight and Sound Reader, ed. Ginette Vincendeau (London: bfi Publishing, 2001), p. 95 [91–97].Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    Friedrich Kittler, Draculas Vermächtnis: Technische Schriften (Leipzig: Reclam Verlag, 1993), p. 39.Google Scholar
  23. 36.
    Carolyn Dinshaw, “Temporalities,” in Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 108 [107–23]; original emphasis.Google Scholar
  24. 40.
    See Ronald R. Thomas, “Specters of the Novel: Dracula and the Cinematic Afterlife of the Victorian Novel,” in Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century, ed. John Kucich and Dianne F. Sadoff (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), p. 303 [288–310].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew James Johnston, Margitta Rouse, and Philipp Hinz 2014

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  • Cordula Lemke

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