‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ and the Sensitive Vampire

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Therese Gardner

Vampires. Hollywood has an obsession with them, especially with Dracula. The lustful, blood driven character has become one of the most popular literary and cinematic figures since the book release in 1897. And over the years, Dracula’s image has remained that of a cold, heartless villain until Francis Ford Coppola gave him and the story a new perspective in his 1992 version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The film follows the same plot as the novel but with a twist. The eternal monster is not driven by power, but by love. Taking inspiration from the real-life villain, Vlad the Impaler, Vladimir Dracula starts out as a human warrior protecting his castle from Turkish forces but all turns to demise when the love of his life, Elisabetha, throws herself from the top of the tower and into the river. When he’s told of the news that she is damned by God’s law for committing suicide, Dracula revokes his religion, drinks blood, and becomes vampyre.

The rest of his life is in mourning for Elisabetha until she is reincarnated centuries later into an engaged woman in London named, Mina. He spends the rest of his life (or until the end of the film) trying to get her back.

If you’ve ever seen a Dracula movie then you’d know that this is not how the story goes. But, Coppola and writer James V. Hart defy the status quo of former Dracula films and bring a softer touch to it. They give the vampire a heart when there wasn’t one and it figuratively beats for the love of his life and afterlife.

With this simple change to the story came generations of sensitive vampire characters. The blood lust was no longer the motive of our leading men and women bloodsuckers; they were no longer seen as the monsters.

An example of this is the 1994 film, Interview with the Vampire, where it’s main character Louis spends his eternal life mourning the loss of his family in the midst of taking care of a child vampire. He’s maternal and emotional while suppressing the urge to kill.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula turns lust into love and the heartless into human (sort of). Overall, it changed the way that Hollywood views the undying and beloved characters that created the monster movie craze amongst us mortals.

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