Thoughts on the new BBC production of “Dracula”

Urf. I hadn’t reached a point of feeling that I had enough leisure time to sit and re-watch the new adaptation of “Dracula” and see how bad it really is and seriously pick it apart (I have my own theories about where the writer’s ideas came from). But I needed a workout movie yesterday and I’d just run the old 1970′s version with Louis Jourdan and refreshed my memory about that one, so I popped in my tape of the new BBC “Dracula” that I made when it aired on February 9th.

Yeesh.

First of all, it was much shorter than I thought. I remembered that it ended at twenty minutes to the hour, and I’d thought it was an hour and forty minutes, or just long enough for my workout. But I had to rewind the tape and start it over again to finish my workout, so the movie must be more like an hour and a quarter–maybe intended for a 90-minute time slot with commercial breaks. That seems awfully short for an adaptation of a book like Dracula. I guess when it was broadcast, PBS started it at half-past.

It’s pretty sad when I can MST3K a movie while I’m working out to it, and still not miss a rep.

“Don’t break Dr. Seward’s heart, now.”
“Er…Arthur, dear, those aren’t the family jewels she’s interested in.”
God, what does a girl have to do to get laid around here?”

I read some interesting comments on a blog (didn’t keep track of whose, apologies to the blogger!) to the effect that Singleton was a “Gary Stu” character (the commentator said, “if this was fanfic…”, well of course it’s fanfic, ALL these endless Dracula ripoffs-retreads are basically nothing but that, fanfic!). But while I saw her point–that the character is all-knowing, all-important, appears onscreen almost more than Dracula himself, etc.–I don’t quite agree in this case. The writer is so incompetent that he relies on big blocks of expository dialogue, in which characters laboriously explain to other characters and the audience what’s going on. In order to do this, some character has to know what’s going on (unlike the book, in which the characters and we figure it all out on the fly). Singleton isn’t a “Gary Stu,” he’s a Greek Chorus.

Eventually I’d like to go into more depth about this production, which IMHO owed a great deal to the Hammer Drac series and Werner Herzog’s remake of “Nosferatu”. I’m a little concerned by the short length of the version broadcast by PBS, however, because it makes me wonder if a lot was edited out, and I’m not giving the adaptation a fair treatment in consequence.

Somehow, though, I don’t think so.

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