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Dracula (1992)

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Dracula (also known as Bram Stoker's Dracula)[1] is a 1992 American horror-romance thriller co-written, produced, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It stars Gary Oldman as Count Dracula and Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, also featuring Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, and Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra in her first major film role. Dracula was greeted by a generally positive critical reception and was a box office hit. It also spawned a video game, a board game, a comic book adaptation, collectable cards, various action figures and model sets and various parodies. The film's score was composed by Wojciech Kilar and featured "Love Song for a Vampire" by Annie Lennox as the closing credits theme.


In 1462, Vlad Dracula (Gary Oldman), a member of the Order of the Dragon, returns from a victory against the Turks to find his wife Elisabeta (Winona Ryder) had committed suicide after hearing false reports of his death. Enraged at the notion of his wife being eternally damned as a suicide, Dracula desecrates his chapel and renounces God, declaring that he will rise from the grave to avenge Elisabeta with all the powers of darkness.

In 1897, law clerk Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) takes the Transylvanian Count Dracula over as a client from his colleague R.M. Renfield (Tom Waits), who has gone insane. Jonathan travels to Transylvania to arrange the formalities of Dracula's real estate acquisition in London, including Carfax Abbey. Jonathan meets Dracula, a wrinkled, pale old man (Oldman) inhabiting a bizarre castle. During the signing of the papers, the Count discovers a picture of Harker's fiancée, Mina (Ryder), and is astonished to find that she is the reincarnation of Elisabeta. Dracula leaves Jonathan to be seduced by his brides (Monica Bellucci, Michaela Bercu, and Florina Kendrick) and sails to England with boxes of his native soil, taking up residence at Carfax Abbey. His arrival is foretold by the ravings of Renfield, now an inmate in Dr. Jack Seward's (Richard E. Grant) neighboring lunatic asylum.

In London, Dracula emerges as a werewolf-like creature amid a fierce thunderstorm and hypnotically seduces, then rapes and bites, Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost), with whom Mina is staying while Jonathan is in Transylvania. Lucy's deteriorating health and behavioral changes prompts Lucy's former love-interests Quincey Morris (Billy Campbell) and Dr. Seward, along with her fiancée, Arthur Holmwood (Cary Elwes), to summon Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins), who during a blood transfusion recognizes Lucy as the victim of a vampire. Dracula, now young and handsome, meets and charms Mina. However, when Mina gets word from Jonathan, who has escaped the castle and recovered at a convent, she travels to Hungary to marry him. In his heartbroken fury, Dracula transforms Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing, Holmwood, Seward, and Morris kill Lucy to stop her undead suffering, and save her from eternal damnation.

As Jonathan and Mina return to London, Jonathan and Van Helsing lead the others to Carfax Abbey, where they destroy the Count's boxes of soil. Dracula enters the asylum, where he kills Renfield for warning Mina of his presence, and visits Mina, who is staying in Seward's quarters while the others hunt Dracula. Dracula confesses that he murdered Lucy and has been terrorizing Mina's friends, but a confused and angry Mina admits that she still loves him and now remembers her old life as Elisabeta. At her insistence, Dracula begins to transform her into a vampire. The vampire hunters burst into the bedroom, with Dracula claiming Mina as his bride before escaping by changing into thousands of rats. As Mina begins changing the same way Lucy had, Van Helsing hypnotizes her and learns via her connection with Dracula that he is sailing home in his last remaining box. The Hunters depart for the port of Varna to intercept him, but Dracula reads Mina's mind and evades them. The Hunters split up, with Van Helsing and Mina traveling to the Borgo Pass and the Castle, while the others try to stop the Gypsies transporting the Count.

At night, Van Helsing and Mina are approached by Dracula's brides. They frighten Mina at first, but she gives into their chanting and attempts to seduce Van Helsing. Before Mina can feed on his blood he places a communion wafer upon her forehead, leaving a mark. He proceeds to surround them with a ring of fire to protect them from the brides. In the morning, he infiltrates the castle and decapitates them. As sunset approaches, Dracula's carriage appears on the horizon, pursued by the hunters, and arrives at the castle. A fight between the hunters and gypsies ensues and at sunset Dracula bursts from his coffin. Harker slits his throat while a wounded Morris stabs him in the heart. As Dracula staggers, Mina rushes to his defense. Holmwood tries to attack but Van Helsing and Harker allow her to retreat with the Count, turning instead to Morris, who dies surrounded by his friends.

In the same chapel where he renounced God centuries earlier, Dracula lies dying, now in an ancient demonic form. He asks Mina to give him peace, by stabbing the sword through his heart. They share a final kiss, as the candles adorning the chapel miraculously light in God's presence, and the hole in the cross heals itself. Mina shoves the knife through his heart. The mark on her forehead disappears as Dracula's curse is lifted, as well as Elisabeta's soul. She then decapitates him and gazes up at the fresco of Vlad and Elisabeta ascending to Heaven together. Mina is then finally free.



Dracula received considerable attention upon release, being greeted with generally positive reviews from critics. Based on 44 reviews collected from notable publications by popular review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an overall approval rating of 82%.[2]Roger Ebert awarded the film 3/4 stars, writing: "I enjoyed the movie simply for the way it looked and felt. Production designers Dante Ferretti and Thomas Sanders have outdone themselves. The cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus, gets into the spirit so completely he always seems to light with shadows." Ebert did, however, voice mild criticisms on what he felt were "narrative confusions and dead ends."[3]Vincent Canby described the film as being akin to "the work of a precocious film student who has magically acquired a master's command of his craft."[4]

Richard Corliss said, "Coppola brings the old spook story alive ... Everyone knows that Dracula has a heart; Coppola knows that it is more than an organ to drive a stake into. To the director, the count is a restless spirit who has been condemned for too many years to interment in cruddy movies. This luscious film restores the creature's nobility and gives him peace."[5]Jonathan Rosenbaum felt the film suffered from a "somewhat dispersed and overcrowded story line" but that it "remains fascinating and often affecting thanks to all its visual and conceptual energy."[6]Empire's Tom Hibbert panned the film, writing: "Has a film ever promised so much yet delivered so little? There was so much potential, yet when it came down to it, Coppola made his Dracula too old to be menacing, gave Keanu Reeves a part and took out all the action. So all we're left with is an overly long bloated adaptation, instead of what might have been a gothic masterpiece."[7]

Box office
The film opened at #1 at the box office with $30,521,679. However, it dropped off in subsequent weeks falling out of the top ten after just 5 weeks. Still, it managed to become a box office hit grossing $82,522,790 domestically becoming the 15th highest grossing film of the year[8]. It fared much better overseas grossing $133,339,902 for a total worldwide gross of $215,862,692,[9] making it the 9th highest grossing film of the year worldwide[10].

Awards and honors
The film won three Academy Awards, Best Costume Design (Eiko Ishioka), Best Sound Effects Editing (Tom C. McCarthy, David E. Stone) and Best Makeup (Greg Cannom, Michèle Burke, Matthew W. Mungle) and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Thomas E. Sanders, Garrett Lewis).[11]

Home video releases and merchandise
In 1993 a special boxed set was released of Dracula, in the shape of a coffin. The box contained the film on VHS, which included a behind-the-scenes documentary, and the original Dracula novel by Bram Stoker in paper back. Grey, gothic statue heads (as seen on the original film poster) adorned the front cover of the book against a grey stone background.

Dracula was first released to DVD in 1999[12] and again as a Superbit DVD in 2001.[13] Neither release contained any extra features. A two-disc "Collector's Edition" DVD[14] and Blu-ray[15] was released in 2007. The "Collector's Edition" special features include an introduction and audio commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola, deleted and extended scenes, teaser and full-length trailers, and the documentaries "The Blood Is the Life: The Making of Dracula", "The Costumes Are the Sets: The Design of Eiko Ishioka", "In Camera: The Naïve Visual Effects of Dracula", and "Method and Madness: Visualizing Dracula".

Other merchandising for the film included a board game,[16] a pinball game,[17] and video game adaptations for the Super Nintendo, NES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Sega Master System, Amiga, Sega CD, and PC. A four-issue comic book adaptation and 100 collectible cards based on the movie were released by the Topps company with art provided by Mike Mignola.[18]

Various action figures and model sets were also produced. In addition to these items, accurate licensed replicas of Dracula's sword and Quincey's bowie knife were available from Factory X.[19] A novelization of the film was published, written by Fred Saberhagen.[20]

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