I recently watched the BBC One/Netflix Dracula series/movie. Lots of slashes there, but why? Because, it’s my understanding that the BBC One made the thing and Netflix bought the rights. And while it is set up as a series, it’s only 3 episodes long and the total runtime with credits and recaps and titles and what-not is, probably, about four-and-a-half hours, basically, a long movie. You may have gathered from my previous post, that at the two-thirds mark, I was a bit disappointed with the product as presented. Then it got bad.
It’s hard to do Dracula and do something that hasn’t been done before. My research, which is not extensive in any way, shows that there have been more than 62 Dracula films and that the character of Dracula has appeared in something like 200 films. Now, you throw in novels, TV shows, comic books, and games into the mix and you’ve got a character who is pretty well known and fairly extensively defined. I cannot imagine that anyone reading this is completely clueless about Dracula, but I am willing to bet most haven’t read the original novel. One thing that you could do to make your film stand out would be to make the most faithful screen adaption of the novel. That’s what I was hoping for. That’s not the route that was taken.
No. We were given yet another reimagining of this classic. Of which there are already very, very many. I realized this pretty quickly and made an attempt to quash my disappointment and take it for what it was, another reworked take on Dracula and the rest of the cast. A little gender swapping. A little character melding. A lot of blood and gore. Plenty of flies. Oh, and way too many scenes of people popping their fingernails off. So gross.
I don’t want to spoil this for anyone who might watch it, so I’m not going to go into detail. But let’s start with the good.
- Sister Agatha is great. Dolly Wells does a wonderful job of bringing this character to film. I would watch a series based on this character. Dolly Wells also plays Zoe, but she’s not as spectacular.
- Claes Bang does a good Dracula. My problems are with the story, not with the actor or the character.
- Special effects are good.
- Production values are good.
The bad stuff is hard to go into without giving away parts of the plot, but suffice it to say that the biggest issue I have is how far off from the source material it veers. I really wanted the definitive BBC production of Dracula. So without spoiling anything… all the other characters are forgettable, the gore was a bit excessive for my tastes, and the ending is crap.
My quick survey of the internet seems to say that the 1977 BBC version with Louis Jourdan is the most faithful screen adaptation of the book. I’ve never seen it, but I may have to seek it out and give it a watch. There are also a lot of advocates for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula being closest to the novel. I did see that one, in the theater none-the-less, and while I enjoyed it, I remember that it took more than a few liberties with the book. Most of which seemed to revolve around Winona Ryder in my memory. Whatever the case, there is not much consensus and I am not going to sit through 60+ movies to figure out which is the closest. I’m sure there is a whole other list of “best” Dracula movies.
All I know is, I was disappointed in this particular version of Dracula and the ending is garbage. Really, the whole third episode was crap. That’s my two cents worth. Later.