Dracula (1958 film): Wikis

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Dracula

Original film poster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Bram Stoker (Novel)
Starring Peter Cushing
Christopher Lee
Michael Gough
Melissa Stribling
Carol Marsh
Music by James Bernard
Studio Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK), Universal Pictures (USA)
Release date(s) 8 May 1958 (1958-05-08)
Running time 82 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £81,000
Followed by The Brides of Dracula

Dracula is a 1958 British horror film, and the first of a series of Hammer Horror films inspired by the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher, and stars Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, John Van Eyssen and Christopher Lee. In the United States, the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the Tod Browning-directed Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi.

Production began at Bray Studios on the 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000.[1]

Contents

Plot

Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula near Klausenberg, posing as a librarian. He is startled inside the castle by a young woman begging for help, claiming to be a prisoner. Dracula then greets Harker and guides him to his room, where he locks him in. Jonathan starts to write in his diary, and his true intentions are revealed: he has come to kill Dracula.

John Van Eyssen as Jonathan Harker.

Freed sometime later, Harker again is confronted by the desperate woman. She begs him for help but then bites his neck. Just as she does, Dracula arrives and yanks her away. When he awakens in daylight, Harker finds the bite mark. He hides his journal in a Virgin Mary grotto outside the castle and descends into the crypts, where he finds Dracula and the unnamed woman in their coffins. Armed with a stake, he impales the woman. But when he turns to kill Dracula, the count has already awakened and is waiting for him.

Dr. Van Helsing then arrives in Klausenberg, looking for Harker. The frightened townsfolk give him Harker's journal. When he arrives at the castle, it is deserted; a hearse carriage speeds by with a coffin in it. In the crypt, Van Helsing is horrified to discover Harker lying in a coffin as a vampire. Staking Harker, he leaves to deliver the veiled news of Harker's death in person to a wary Arthur Holmwood and his wife Mina, brother and sister-in-law of Harker's fiancée Lucy Holmwood. Lucy is ill, so the news is kept from her. But, when night falls, Lucy opens the doors to her terrace and lays bare her neck — already, it bears the mark of a vampire bite. And soon Dracula arrives and bites her again.

Mina seeks out Van Helsing's aid in treating Lucy's worsened health, but Lucy defeats his anti-vampire prescription, and Lucy dies. Van Helsing turns over Harker's journal and reveals the truth. Vampire Lucy lures away a young niece, but the girl is saved by Van Helsing and Arthur. Arthur refuses to use Lucy as a means to find Dracula, so Van Helsing stakes Lucy in her coffin.

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

Van Helsing and Arthur travel to the customs house in Ingstadt to track down the destination of Dracula's coffin (which Van Helsing saw carried away when he arrived at Dracula's castle). Meanwhile, Mina is called away from home by a message telling her to meet Arthur at an address in Karlstadt — the same address Arthur and Van Helsing are told the coffin was bound for — and Dracula is indeed waiting for her.

The next morning, Arthur and Van Helsing find Mina in a strange state. They leave for the address they were given, an undertaker's, but find the coffin missing. When the decide to set off again, Arthur tries to give Mina a cross to wear, but it burns her.

During the night, Van Helsing and Arthur guard Mina's windows outside against a return of Dracula, but Dracula nonetheless appears inside the house and bites her. A remark by the maid leads Van Helsing to the coffin's location: the cellar of the Holmwoods' own house. But Dracula is not in the coffin and instead escapes into the night with Mina.

A chase then begins as Dracula rushes to return to his castle near Klausenberg before sunrise. He attempts to bury Mina alive outside the crypts but is caught by Van Helsing and Arthur. Inside the castle, Van Helsing and Dracula struggle. Van Helsing tears open the curtain to let in the sunlight and, forming a cross of candlesticks, he forces Dracula into it. Dracula crumbles into dust as Van Helsing watches in horror. Mina recovers, the cross-shaped scar fading from her hand as Dracula's ashes blow away and leave only a ring behind.

Production

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Screenplay and its Differences from the Novel

This film adaptation made several deviations from the original novel and 1931 film, and drew inspiration from the stageplay. The location of the Count's castle at Klausenberg is only a short distance (and customs checkpoint) from the city inhabited by the Holmwood family, which appears to be in Germany. The sea voyage from Transylvania to England does not appear in the film and consequently Dracula never takes up residence in his English home, Carfax Abbey neighboring an insane asylum.

Jonathan Harker is a librarian and vampire hunter, having come to Dracula's castle to destroy him, rather than an unwitting solicitor. He also becomes a vampire and is dispatched by his friend Van Helsing.

  • Mina is Arthur Holmwood's wife, while Lucy is his sister and Jonathan's fiancée.
  • The characters of R. M. Renfield and Quincey Morris are omitted.
  • Doctor John Seward only appears twice, in two brief scenes as the family doctor, and is completely unaware of the supernatural goings-on.
  • Count Dracula has only one Bride (there are three in the novel), and she is destroyed by Jonathan Harker, not Van Helsing. She ages upon her true "death".
  • Only one coffin is transported to the city.
  • Count Dracula does not grow younger, nor can he shapeshift.
  • The Count has not mastered the art of magic.
  • Count Dracula is destroyed by sunlight, whereas his powers are merely limited by daylight in the novel

Special effects

The filming of Dracula's destruction included a shot in which Dracula appears to peel away his decaying skin. This was accomplished by putting a layer of red makeup on Christopher Lee's face, and then covering his entire face with a thin coating of mortician's wax, which was then made up to conform to his normal skin tone. When he raked his fingers across the wax, it revealed the "raw" marks underneath. Still photos of this startling shot exist, but it was cut out of the disintegration sequence in the film.

Zodiac Wheel in Final Scene

At the end of the movie, Dracula is destroyed on a inlaid Zodiac wheel on the floor, which has several quotes in Latin and Greek. The inner circle in Greek, has a quote from Homer's Odyssey Book 18: "τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων οἷον ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ ἄγησι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε" ("The mind of men who live on the earth is such as the day the father of gods and men [Zeus] brings upon them.") The outer wheel is written in Latin, and is a quote from Hesiod via Bartolomeo Anglico (De proprietatibus rerum, Book 8, Chapter 2):"Tellus vero primum siquidem genuit parem sibi coelum stellis ornatum, ut ipsam totam obtegat, utque esset beatis Diis sedes tuta semper." ("And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods.") Dracula's ring is left on the water sign on the Zodiac wheel, which perhaps symbolizes his final rebirth.

UK Re-Release Controversy

When the film was originally released in the UK, the BBFC gave it an X rating, being cut, while the 2007 uncut re-release was given a 12A.

Notes and references

  1. ^ *Rigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3. 

External links


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