Real estate agent Renfield travels to Transylvania to sign an agreement with Count Dracula to buy the old Carfax Abbey in London. Locals warn Renfield that Dracula’s castle is a den of evil spirits, but he ignores the warnings. At the Borgo pass he is picked up by a carriage with a silent coachman. Looking out of the carriage along the road, Renfield sees that the coachman has disappeared, and a bat is flapping its wings over the team.
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The biggest mistake you can make when watching the classic ‘Dracula’ is to interpret the events and characters of Tod Browning’s film in their accordance with them based on the novel by Bram Stoker. One of the founders of the horror genre did not set out to film the book, he took only the very essence from it, giving its heroes and, above all, of course, Dracula himself, his own vision. The result, after 80 years, everyone knows: Stoker’s novel is still considered a classic of Gothic literature, and Browning’s tape is the canonical embodiment of the greatest vampire.
Real estate agent Renfield is sent to Transylvania to conclude a deal, a young man extremely curious and recklessly brave. He is not afraid of stories about the terrible Count Dracula, he is just doing his job. The ‘hero of the occasion’ is not long in coming. This scene with the appearance of a tall man of aristocratic appearance, piercing eyes and the deaf collar of a black cloak will not soon be erased from memory. The soft Romanian accent of the unsurpassed Bela Lugosi in the phrase ‘I am Dracula’ completes the look. Gary Oldman 60 years later had someone to look up to. The decayed halls of the old castle, behind which only the frightened little people are pretty tired of the count, and with the help of Renfield, he acquires an abbey in London, where he soon sets off. But before that, the fanatical agent manages to go mad and turn into a loyal servant of Dracula.
Despite such a hefty ‘rethinking’ of Stoker’s novel, its gothic atmosphere is preserved and sustained in every frame. The interiors of the abandoned castle, the basement where Dracula’s coffin stands, are intertwined with an eerie abbey, where the new owner is going to carry out “only a small renovation.” The fear frozen on the faces of Londoners seemed to emanate from the earl’s hypnotic eyes. Bela Lugosi, to be sure, played the role of his life. Why would a vampire be a fierce bloodsucker? Better for him to be a refined master, with refined manners. The range of the actor’s facial expressions is amazing. Here the count smiles sweetly at Mina Harker and communicates with her father with dignity. And here is his sorcerous gaze, paralyzing the will of the servant. The paradox is that almost tangible waves of danger emanate from Dracula, but those around him are too fascinated by him to resist him.
However, the opponent to the graph is found quickly. Professor Van Helsing has nothing to do with the image of a vampire hunter, he is a thoughtful scientist, whose whole life is in research. Dracula reluctantly recognizes him as a worthy opponent. Van Helsing is not subject to the gaze of a vampire, and the faithful crucifixion grants him physical protection. Edward van Sloan fulfilled his role to match Bele himself. Its rustic appearance is very deceiving, the message emanating from Van Helsing is strength in the human mind, not in weapons. Mina and Lucy, who became victims of Dracula, were open to his influence, because they wanted to taste unknown feelings. the count plays on the thin strings of human souls, who are abhorrent to monotony and who are attracted to everything mysterious, and therefore attractive.
But who really amazed was Dwight Fry. Only a very talented actor could so convincingly portray madness. Fry’s huge eyes from the seized madness contrast surprisingly with the icy aristocracy of Lugosi. As you know, Renfield ate all kinds of insects and was endlessly devoted to Dracula. But Tod Browning’s cinema broadened the view of Renfield. It came out more versatile than even Stoker’s. It combines animal fear of the master and respect for his victims. Renfield is imbued with the fate of Mina, although she is no one to him and Dracula’s cruelty seems to him excessive. This madman is still capable of thinking, and this is what becomes fatal for him.
The film leaves an impression of understatement. 104 minutes is very little! In an attempt to ‘dynamize’ the movie, the producers almost threw out the child with water. It is a pity that the hunt for the vampire Lucy is not shown, and after all, Coppola’s scene in her crypt is one of the most memorable. Editing the film also leaves a lot to be desired. The further, the more and more patchwork the picture, the director clearly tried to push more material into the allotted time. Still, the denouement does not disappoint. It logically echoes the first appearance on the screen of Dracula. All the same coffins in an abandoned basement, all the same delicate features of the count, which are even more noticeable during his sleep. Van Helsing’s harsh determination is in harmony with a sense of respect for the enemy. After all, the Dutchman’s science would be worth little if it were not applied to a real subject.
Dracula is dead … No, he’s alive! And it will always live thanks to Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi. Countless film adaptations, musicals, computer and vampire-themed video games – nowhere are complete without a tall man with a black cloak. And here he is – from 1931. Big is not in vain seen at a distance. The director could simply film the writer and he would have turned out to be an ordinary aged ghoul who only needs blood. Browning went his own way, created by him ‘Dracula’ immortalized its creators. No matter how many new adaptations of Bram Stoker’s work come out, only one will remain canonical. Years over her, as well as over the most famous count, have no power. This is not just a horror movie (and where are the horrors, right the word), this is a kind of zero kilometer for a vampire theme. Dracula will always live, people need a negative hero who can be admired. And his name is forever associated with White Lugosi and his magnetic eyes.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (53.4 Mb/s)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
Original aspect ratio: 1.2:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
French: DTS 2.0 Mono
Italian: DTS 2.0
Spanish: DTS 2.0 Mono
German: DTS 2.0
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