Lilith Likes to Watch - Bram Stoker's Dracula
"Take me away from all this death."
We've all had that event. The moment when, looking back, you realize that a movie, or a character, or a scene awakens something in you. For me? I was 11 or 12. And I saw Bram Stoker's Dracula in theatres.
I'm going to try to talk about this movie with more nuance than simply typing "AAAA! AAAA! FUCK YOU GO WATCH THIS MOVIE AAAAA FUCK!", I'll do my best.
As I said, I was 12-ish when I saw this movie in theatres. I wanted to see it because I was going through a Winona Ryder faze like every young girl in the late 80's and early 90's. It was Ryder in a bunch of pretty dresses, so, yeah, I wanted to see it. I even clipped out newspaper ads for the film. I just thought it looked really cool and Ryder looked really pretty. I didn't yet know the word aesthetic.
First of all, this movie is beautiful. It is a marvel of practical effects. Most of them still hold up quite well, with one or two fairly green-screen-y shots. The set design and costumes are bizarre, especially the armor and the make-up for old Dracula, but also the asylum is quite the sight to behold. Those head-cages, man...
A lot has been said about the acting of Winona Ryder and especially Keanu Reeves. I have absolutely no problem with Ryder's acting, but yes, The Internet's Boyfriend is very distracting. Apparently he felt he had to act because he was performing alongside Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman.
And then there's Gary Oldman who is my absolute favourite actor on the planet and is a fucking chameleon. The only reason I realized Oldman was Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films was because Sirius Black's death face is extremely similar to Dracula's O-face. He is the perfect Vlad Dracula this side of Christopher Lee.
Hopkins is a picture perfect Van Helsing. He's clever and quick-witted and so sardonic that he brings much needed levity to the situation. When Benicio Del Toro's Wolfman came out, I was excited, hoping it could be a spiritual companion peice to this movie, thanks to Hopkins' presence. It wasn't.
But, let's not forget poor Lucy. Mina's wealthy best friend and an embodiment of the virgin-whore complex. Lucy is a huge flirt, dreams of sex, and owns erotic literature with full coloured illustrations. She has three suitors and toys with them sweetly, and, strangest fact of all: all three men basically get along.
Can we just talk about Lucy and Mina's friendship for a moment? Lucy is a little selfish and self-centered but she is a genuine friend to Mina. She doesn't abandon Mina at the party, and instead tries to include her in socializing innocently with men. It's Mina who remains a wall-flower of her own accord, only for Dracula to lurk in the shadows.
When Lucy is attacked by Dracula, Mina rescues her, and Lucy finds comfort in her. When Lucy is ill, she tells Mina to go to her love, Jonathan Harker, and not worry about her, though she is dying. Even when Lucy decides who to marry, she senses that Mina seems distracted, and Mina points out how oddly written the letter from Harker is Lucy take the time to read the letter.
They have a true, healthy female friendship, one that isn't tainted by competition or jealousy or cattiness. More films should take note on the relationship dynamics of these two characters. Yes, all they talk about is men and marriage but I don't care. Their friendship is pure.
Also there's a deleted scene where Lucy is wearing a corset and is washing Mina's hair. It should have stayed in the film.
Speaking of Lucy, little 12 year old me really loved the hedge maze scene. The way her gauzy red cape fluttered in the storm winds. Yep. That explains some things. That entire scene explains a lot of things...
This entire movie explains practically everything about me, from my love of top-hats, to Victorian gowns, to other more esoteric things like: blasphemy is hot and so are straight razors.
But, on the subject of erotic scenes in this movie, there is one single shot in particular I adore. When Mina is being turned by Dracula, he embraces her in his arms. He practically envelops her and she looks so small and precious and dear to him and I fucking love that shot. It's my second favourite part of the entire film.
The hedge maze scene is the first.
I adore this movie. I watch it at least once every year and always notice something new. Last time, I watched it while drinking absinthe which is an experience I highly recommend. This movie made me who I am, I wouldn't be the writer I am today without this film and it's arresting visuals. It's inspired at least three of my erotica books, including Sanguinerotica which is coming out in mere days. If you've never seen Bram Stoker's Dracula, please, I implore you to give it a chance.
LILITH'S SCORE: 10/10. Fuck you, my site, my rules.
NEXT TIME: I haven't decided yet. What an exciting mystery for us to share!