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November 8, 2012

The Movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula": Interesting Facts for Orthodox Christians

Though Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is one of my favorite works of fiction, the movie adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992 is among my least favorite on-screen depictions (though it is a very entertaining movie with good cinematography and gothic atmospherics). By putting the authors name into the title, it was hailed to be the most accurate depiction of the story on film, when in reality very little is accurate but for certain details. The same false advertising was done with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, also directed by Coppola. Having said this, there are a few interesting facts within the film that may be of interest to Orthodox Christians.

1. The first shot of the movie is the outside dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople with a cross on top, which then is replaced with the crescent moon when the narrator explains that Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453.

2. Though the opening scene of the movie is not in the book and is entirely fictional, it does depict a real 15th century Romanian Orthodox Prince named Vlad the Impaler, who many believe to be the primary inspiration behind the mythical vampire known as Dracula.

3. Anthony Hopkins plays a Romanian Orthodox priest named Cesare in the opening scene of the movie, who tells Dracula that his beloved Elisabeta's soul is damned for committing suicide in despair. It should be noted also that Anthony Hopkins, who was made famous by his previous film Silence of the Lambs, also plays the narrator, the captain of the Demeter, and of course, Van Helsing. Van Helsing is supposed to be a reincarnation of Fr. Cesare in the film, just as Mina Harker is supposed to be a reincarnation of Elisabeta (this is not in the book).

4. Prince Vlad's scream after he drives his sword into the cross is not the voice of Gary Oldman. Lux Interior, lead singer of punk band The Cramps, recorded the scream and it was dubbed in.

5. Greek-American avant-garde performance artist, vocalist, keyboardist, and composer Diamanda Galás provided vocal effects for the three brides of Dracula.

6. To keep to budget, Bram Stoker's Dracula was filmed almost entirely on the MGM soundstage; only the wedding was filmed on location at Saint Sophia's Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles. Director Francis Ford Coppola explains on the DVD commentary that Mina and Jonathan Harker's wedding was a reshoot of the entire ceremony with a genuine Orthodox priest, and he jokingly realized afterwards that Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves really were married following the ceremony.