Friday, December 3, 2010

Bram Stoker's - Dracula

Little did Bram Stoker know that his one creation will enthral and spell bound readers and non-readers alike for countless generations. Count Dracula is the perfect example of how a strong character can rise above the simplest of stories and become immortal. 007 (Fleming) and Jeeves (Wodehouse) are other such characters.

In writing Dracula, Stoker adopted a unique style of narration. It is through the diary or journal entries, letters and telegrams of various characters that the story unfolds. This lends a touch of realism to the story making it more creepy, mysterious and disturbing.

Stoker laid down ground rules about vampires in his book but he also left much to the reader’s imagination. Dracula’s past, his ancestors, his household, the extent of his powers are aspects which Stoker has not revealed in too much detail, leaving us to form our own conclusions and create our own variations.

The character of Count Dracula has a lot of depth, something which the modern vampires don’t possess. He is not just a blood sucking monster but an intelligent being that meticulously makes plans and executes them. His strength, both of mind and body, helps him survive but he also knows his limitations and cannot live among ordinary humans (unlike the modern vampires who seem to gel in perfectly well with the living and the dead) for extended intervals. His cold hearted nature is what makes him so horrific; he derives a certain joy from his kill. He plans to set up base in London to carry out massive destruction (both in terms of killing people and converting a selected few into his army of ‘un-dead’) in order to gain strength and amass power over the living. Seems Dracula shares certain characteristics with the present geo-political players who are willing to go to any lengths (as revealed by Wiki leaks) to establish their writ!

Dracula has inspired many film versions but almost all of them deviate to a certain degree from the book, making them very unpopular with me. I was quite upset with Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula – ‘Love never dies’. Although the plot bore much resemblance to Stoker’s book, the execution and cinematography was in extremely bad taste. Coppola, as always, wants to create something ‘different’ so he selected an actor who was the complete opposite of Dracula’s description (as established by Stoker) and shown in previous films, added a love story in the whole Dracula saga and sprinkled the film with exotic costumes and nudity. I guess it was one artist’s interpretation of another. It is the 1931 film, starring Béla Lugosi as the Count which captures Dracula perfectly. The plot deviates, slightly, from the book but the black & white film lends an altogether different feel to Dracula’s character although I must admit that the flying bats looked more comical than eerie!

A must read – not for the faint hearted though!

'The blood is the life'– Count Dracula