I would’ve enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula adaptation more if it hadn’t called itself Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The implication was that it was a faithful retelling of the story, but – though it was more faithful than, say, Lugosi’s – James V. Hart’s screenplay took a lot of liberties with Stoker’s novel. I’ve got no problems with changing the story in an adaptation, but it’s crappy to do that and then market yourself as the original version.
That aside, I’m still not a huge fan of the movie. It’s lavish, has great visuals (Mike Mignola worked in the art department), and a fantastic cast, but it owes more to Anne Rice than Bram Stoker, and I’m not a fan of Anne Rice. Dracula (Gary Oldman) is presented as a tragic, romantic figure who only wants to be reunited with his true love. That she’s apparently been reincarnated as Mina Murray (Winona Ryder) is bad news for her and all her friends, but the movie asks its audience to at least pity the Count if not outright root for him. It would be an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance if it were handled more skillfully, but the movie doesn’t succeed in making me care about Dracula, and it kind of pisses me off that it even tries.
There were a couple of positive results of the film though. One is that it was extremely popular and got people creating Dracula stories again. The other is that it finally got me to read the original novel, if only to prove to myself that what was on screen wasn’t what Stoker wrote.