, Research Paper
The Many Faces of Count Dracula
Throughout the past century, many movies were made based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. These versions not only tell different series of events from the novel, but also describe a Count Dracula different in appearance, his animal morphism, and even in the way he dies.
In the novel Dracula, the Count s appearance when we first meet him is that of a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot (Stoker 25). Jonathan Harker, upon shaking Dracula s hand, notices that the hand seemed like ice- more like the hand of a dead than a living man (Stoker 25). However, the best description that is given of the old Count is when Harker finally gets a chance to really look at the old man:
His face was a strong- very strong- aquiline, with high- bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with
lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the
temples but perfusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very mas-
sive, almost meeting over his nose, and with bushy hair that
to curl in its own perfusion. The mouth, so far as I could
see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-
looking, with peculiarity sharp white teeth; these protruded
over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing
vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were
pale, and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general
effect was one of extraordinary pallor… Hitherto I noticed
the backs of his hands as they lay on his keens in the firelight, and they seemed rather white and fine; but seeing them now close to me, I could not but notice that they were rather coarse- broad, with squat fingers. Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. (Stoker 27)
Somewhere in the novel, Dracula starts to grow younger. As Dr. Van Helsing tells Mina: “…he can flourish when that he can fatten on the blood of the living…we have seen amongst us that he can even grow younger (Stoker 245). Now that Dracula has blood to feast on, he can regenerate himself and become younger.
In the movie Bram Stoker s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Count Dracula also appears to be old in the beginning. However, this Dracula, played by Gary Oldman, looks different than the description in the novel. Instead of being dressed all in black, the Count is now dressed in a long red flowing robe. His skin is wrinkled with the signs of age. His eyes are a deep, fiery red. He has no mustache and has a long mane of braided white hair. He is still pale, and his hands are the same: the pale thin fingers, the long pointed nails, and the hair on the palms. His teeth, though, are not sharp and pointed, but like that of a regular human. The ears were not pointed either, and his eyebrows were not bushy like that of the novel.
Dracula, as in the novel, becomes younger as the movie progresses. When he appears in London, he is a younger man, with black hair instead of white. His skin is smooth. He sports a beard and mustache. His hands are those of a normal man. His eyes are dazzling blue, instead of fiery red. He is always dressed in fine clothes with a cane and a top hat. All in all, the people around him view him as a regular person, but the film watchers know better.
Copolla dresses Dracula in fine clothes when he is both old and young because he wants to portray to the audience how regal and proper Dracula believes himself to be. Dracula is proud of who he is, and he treats himself with only the best, and in his mind that includes Mina Harker.
Unlike Copolla s portrayal, the versions of Dracula in Nosferatu, directed by F.W. Murnau, and Dracula, directed by Tod Browning, are the same age throughout the whole movie. In Nosferatu, actor Max Schrek portrays the evil Count Orlock. When we meet the Count, we see an old man, hunched over and walking crookedly. His head is misshapen and he is bald. He has long pointed ears, a mouth full of sharp teeth, and hands with long fingers and long pointed nails. He is dressed in a dark robe which enhances his pale white body. Murnau did this in order to scare the public, who most likely never saw Dracula before in their lives. He wanted to give the portrayal of Dracula an evil one so that he would be remembered in the dreams of the movie patrons.
In Browning s version, Bela Lugosi portrays a young Count throughout the movie, never getting old. His black hair is slicked back. Decked out in a cape, he is dressed in a tux. He walks upright and keeps himself manicured and groomed. Browning s reason for making Lugosi look like this was for the money. It was during the depression that this movie was made, and the public found great entertainment in the theaters. If Dracula was ugly, nobody would go and see the movie, and therefore no money would be made. In all the versions, Dracula was different based on the director s desired affect on the audience.
Similarly, each one of versions of Dracula has different abilities to change into different animals, and either changes in front of other characters or changes of screen or page. In the original novel, none of the characters can really say whether they saw Dracula change. At times they believe that they were dreaming. Before Lucy dies, she talks about the air full of specs, floating and circling in the draught from the window and the lights burning blue and dim (Stoker 152). This is not Lucy going crazy; it is Dracula coming to change her into a vampire. Other times the darkness or other obstacles block the sight of the transformation. Case in point: when Mina hides under her bed, a thick mist comes in through her door joists. Admist this mist are two red eyes, the same red eyes of the Count. Throughout the novel, the characters believe that Dracula can change into a wolf, a bat, and the mist. Although there are no real sightings, the coincidences of these strange happenings lets the characters and the reader conclude what Dracula has changed into.
The decision in the different forms of Dracula in the movies comes down to the choices of the director. In the older versions, the budget was probably what stood in the way of the numerous animal versions of Dracula. In the 1992 version, the big budget and the special effects let Copolla do pretty much whatever he wanted to do with Dracula. Clearly the money factor was major in the decision making.
However, whether one form of numerous forms, Dracula changes in every version. In Bram Stoker s Dracula, we actually see Dracula change into different forms. Over the course of the movie, he changes into a wolf, bats, rats, and the mist, which was green this time. In Dracula and Nosferatu, the watcher concludes that the Count changes into different creatures, including a bat and a hyena, from different hints in the storyline. Although Dracula is not seen changing into different formations all the time, all the versions have Dracula changing.
Even the way that Dracula dies in the different versions is different. In the novel, Dracula has his throat cut deeply by Jonathan Harker s knife while Quincey Morris bowie knife is stabbed into the heart. Fatally wounded, he disappears in a cloud of dust, never to be seen again. In Copolla s version, Dracula is still fatally wounded by Harker and Morris, but doesn t die immediately. Instead, he and Mina go to the church in his castle, where he dies on the alter on which he first vowed vengeance on God. In Nosferatu, Count Orlock dies when the morning sun hits his body. He disappears in a fading shower of light, not a trace of him left at all. In Dracula, Bela Lugosi s character is killed simply enough. Dr. Van Helsing puts a stake through his heart when the Count is sleeping in his coffin, thinking himself safe and sound. In each version, Dracula dies, but not always in the same way.
There exists numerous versions of the Count from Transylvania. Each one has its unique features. However, these versions, as different as they may be, show one thing: how much a story can be embedded into the culture of a nation, or even the world. That is what has happened with Dracula. The story and the characters appear everywhere, in different forms and in different stories. Dracula lives here and now, even though he was killed…or was he?