Monday, October 28, 2019

Dracula Adaptations | Dracula (2006)

Who's in it?: Marc Warren (Wanted), David Suchet (Agatha Christie's Poirot), Stephanie Leonidas (Mirrormask, American Gothic), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Guest, The Man Who Invented Christmas) Sophia Myles (Underworld, Thunderbirds), Rafe Spall (Prometheus, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Men in Black: International), and Tom Burke (The Musketeers).

What's it about?: The BBC creates the craziest version of the story yet.

How is it?: Apparently, I don't like any Dracula adaptation after 1979. This one weirdly inserts an English devil-cult that's actively working to bring Dracula (Warren) to London. They sent Van Helsing (Suchet) as their first unwitting agent, but when Dracula decided to keep him captive, they needed a new plan. Fortunately (for them), Arthur Holmwood (Stevens) is persuaded to help in exchange for their promise to use Dracula's powers to cure him of syphilis. He contracted it as an infant from his parents, but the revelation that he has it makes it impossible for him to marry Lucy (Myles) until he's healed.

When Arthur meets Lucy's friend Mina (Leonidas) and her fiancé, Jonathan Harker (Spall), Arthur hires Harker to go to Transylvania and bring back Dracula, knowing full well that there's danger involved. Harker goes missing, but Van Helsing escapes and follows Dracula back to England where he teams up with Mina to defeat the vampire. Helping them is Dr Seward (Burke), a friend of Arthur and Lucy who also happens to be in love with her.

The cast is really really good, especially Sophia Myles and David Suchet. Lucy is probably closest out of any adaptation to whom I imagine in Stoker's novel; updated slightly so that she has more intelligence and power. She's beautiful and sweet, but she knows that Seward wants more from their relationship than she wants to give and she handles that gently and firmly. As she does Holmwood's determination to keep postponing their wedding.

Suchet is a determined, half-mad Van Helsing; a whirlwind of a character who has all the passion and drive to defeat Dracula, but doesn't always know the best path to achieve that goal. I wish he was in a better version, but sadly, in spite of these bright spots, the plot is so mixed up that it's not at all Stoker's story, even in spirit.

Rating: Two out of five Minas.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I imagine with the increasing number of adaptations, new elements are introduced to try and make the latest versions stand out regardless of how much distance it may put from the original.

While I can speak for the film itself, I can safely say this cover is horrible. It’s weird not seeing Dracula himself on the poster!

Michael May said...

That is a weird choice for that DVD cover. There's another version with Dracula on it, but it's so dark and ugly with Dracula's face half-obscured in a weird way that I like it even less.

The most helpful is the Spanish cover; I just couldn't find an image of it that would work for this post. And truthfully, I kind of like the boldness of just putting Mina and Lucy on the cover.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Not helped by the fact I just saw the cover for “Shark Exorcist”. Nothing can top that.

Michael May said...


Anonymous said...

I'll give DRACULA '06 this, it's one of the few adaptations to depict The Count as more Lord Byron than Vlad the Impaler - and in all fairness Mr Mark Warren does reptilian malevolence quite well (he's become something of a serial offender when it comes to playing Period Drama villains and I enjoy his work) - though I do think they missed a trick in not making Lord Godalming's hereditary affliction haemophilia instead of syphilis; being able to manage that ailment allowed Rasputin an 'In' to High Society, so why not Count Dracula?

Michael May said...

I didn't give Warren enough credit 'cause I'm so fascinated by some of the other actors, but I agree that he does a fine job. He's just overwhelmed by so much else, including the plot. He doesn't exactly get lost in all the complications, but they do keep him in the shadows for longer than I like.


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