Saturday, May 18, 2013

NBC's Dracula: Godsend or Goddamnit?

I thought we as a culture were done with vampires. Not the Goth subculture, of course. I doubt we'll really ever be over it. But pop culture? Yeah. I mean, Twilight was published in 2005 for the love of Siouxsie, and every other interest seems to be traipsing off to make way for zombies and badly portrayed BDSM relationships. But lo! I was mistaken. NBC has announced and released a trailer for their new series Dracula, starring Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers.


Here's the blip from the website
It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night - useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan... until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
From the producers of the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning hit "Downton Abbey" comes "Dracula," a twisted, sophisticated and sexy take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, proving that some stories never die. One-hour drama.
Well, readers, you know me. Give me a vampire and turn of the century frippery and I'm a happy Goth, but it leaves me with some questions.

Why do we keep going back to Dracula?

Besides the fact that there are characters named Dracula and Harker and Renfield, and that it's Victorian, and that he's a vampire, it has very little to do with Dracula the novel. It's a "sophisticated and sexy take" on the novel, sure, but couldn't you have changed the names and just gone with a new series?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Dracula adaptations. You all know the famous ones. Bram Stoker's Dracula and Nosferatu are pretty prevalent in pop culture (thank you, Spongebob.) And let there be no mistake there are many vampires that don't bear the Dracula label, but there are many that are. The name Dracula lends a kind of Victorian mystique shorthand to anything that you need to attract an audience. 

So maybe I'm being too picky. 

But finding a version of Dracula that's an accurate adaptation from the novel? Much more difficult. Let's be honest, Dracula as a novel is dense. And who doesn't like Dracula as a brooding Byronic hero with a swooning damsel in a corset? It's more attractive to a widespread audience if it's not just about a monster because over time we've removed the fact from our cultural rhetoric that Dracula represents a time when vampires were monsters. They were big and scary, not romantic and brooding. 

(You can also take this as an invitation to make a fabulous accurate indie Dracula adaptation film. Go on. Please? You're all talented people.)

Anyway, back to the series at hand. Let's watch the trailer:



Ooh! Pretty! Fun costumes, good actors! Maybe it'll be okay after all. Well, at least I have something to watch while I'm suffering through Latin this autumn. 

So what do you guys think? Are you excited for NBC's Dracula?

16 comments:

  1. I absolutely adore Jonathan, but really, the facial hair has got to go. And as for Dracula being a dense read... it really isn't. In my first lit grad class we had to read and compare "Dracula" to "Twilight," and the consensus was that they were both written moderately well, but that "Dracula" was given greater literary significance because of the period language and the modern adaptation of the mythological subject matter.

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    Replies
    1. Okay, maybe dense isn't the right word. But it's got dull sections that carry on for far too long, Lucy and Mina especially.

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    2. I see! Yes, I definitely agree with you about the boring parts :)

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  2. Ahh, you meant "dense" as "dull"... YES. Honestly, for me, 'Dracula' the book is quite boring in several places, although very well written in others, and I found the end rather a letdown, as in "not with a BANG, but a whimper."

    I do like the trailer for the movie, though, I think it shows promise from a new viewpoint. It appears that in this movie, Dracula is actually the victim/wronged hero who is seeking to take revenge and end the cycle, and possibly to make amends for his own crimes as a vampire, similar to Nick in the "Forever Knight" TV series (I went through withdrawal when they ended that one!).

    And the little I saw of Renfield is VERY interesting, I'm intrigued to see what type of person they changed him into!

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    Replies
    1. Excellent comparison! I'm excited for the series and for Renfield as well. Maybe there'll be another post about it once it's started airing and we can see what it's actually like.

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  3. If you're craving monster-era vampires, have you seen the Full Moon productions "Subspecies"? There are four of them, but only the first three are worth watching and out of those, the first one has the most consistent plot. They ARE B-movies after all...

    Vampire Journals - while related to the Subspecies universe, is more along the lines of Anne Rice despondency.

    http://viooz.co/movies/16576-subspecies-1991.html

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    Replies
    1. I haven't seen it, but it looks interesting in a kind of odd way. Thanks for the link!

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  4. I would love to see a TV miniseries of Dracula that actually follows the book. Yes, the language is a bit dense sometimes (though I actually enjoy that sort of thing), but the imagery is strong and startling: a dead ship sailing, the corpse of its captain tied to the wheel; broken and bleeding Renfield, shocked into sanity during his last moments; the damning red mark on Mina's white forehead. Cut out some of Lucy's giggling nonsense and you've got a helluva good show, in my opinion. :)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, Lucy. If you just...didn't...it would be so much better for everyone involved. ;)

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  5. Judging from what the trailer has shown me, it doesn't look too bad. I might check it out, but mainly because Jonathan is in it xD

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