KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS shares some fun facts about Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992
There are over 200 movies based on Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula (1897). Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation is special because it stands out above the rest, particularly in terms of its cinematography and visual style. Love it or loathe it, everyone knows it, so here are 10 fun facts about this version that you might not have heard…
1.) The pornographic Arabian Nights book went missing from set
At the beginning of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mina (Winona Ryder) and Lucy (Sadie Frost) are giggling over a copy of the pornographic ‘Arabian Nights’. The book went missing from the set, and to this day, no one knows who took it. Though some might imagine why.
2.) Gary Oldman shaved his head for makeup purposes
The front of Gary Oldman’s hair was shaved for makeup purposes. It doesn’t look odd in the movie but was quite the sight to behold during rehearsals when Oldman was in his regular clothing.
3.) Coppola admitted Keanu Reeves was wrong for the part of Jonathan Harker
All of the actors were highly praised for their performances by critics and audiences alike, except for Keanu Reeves, who was famously and continuously slated. Even Coppola stated that he had “perhaps cast Reeves for the wrong reasons” (he wanted Jonathan Harker to be loved by girls for his looks). Josh Winning (Total Film) even went as far as to say that “you can visibly see Keanu attempting not to end every one of his lines with ‘dude’”. Harsh.
4.) The terrified child in the Lucy crypt scene wasn’t acting
In the Bram Stoker’s Dracula scene where an undead Lucy carries a screaming child into her crypt, that child is not acting. The poor little girl was actually terrified and crying, and the crew were unable to get the shot the first time around. Despite the on-set social worker insisting that they couldn’t have another take with Lucy actually carrying the child, due to the child’s real emotional distress and fear, they still got the second take and the shot.
5.) Oldman used photos of his son to conjure up emotions
Gary Oldman kept a book of photographs of his son on set. He used the book to conjure up feelings of intense love, which he used for his performance in his scenes with Mina. He also used these emotions to serve the overall motivation for his character, Dracula.
6.) Coppola wanted to create an ‘Origin’ story for Dracula
In the early stages of production, Coppola posed this question to his crew, “Our biggest problem is why go to all this trouble to make that same story again? We’ve seen all this stuff. So what’s our answer?” Coppola’s answer was to focus the story on Count Dracula’s emotional journey. Unlike the book, the movie presents us with an “origin” story of how Dracula came to be the Dark Prince.
The story in the movie is about how Dracula was betrayed by the church and lost his true love, and his arduous journey to be reunited with her. Oldman gives us a Dracula that isn’t just a one-dimensional monster, but a fleshed out character with whom we can relate. It’s not as simple as Dracula is the bad guy.
7.) There’s no CGI in the film except for the blue flames
With the exception of the blue flames, there is no CGI in the movie. All effects were created on-set with props and/or with camera or editing techniques. Coppola was very concerned that the viewer should enjoy an authentic experience, especially with the time period in which the story is set, and thought that obvious modern graphics would ruin it. He even went as far as to fire his visual effects team when they insisted that he couldn’t achieve what he wanted without “modern digital technology”.
8.) The bat suit was created as an afterthought to improve scene
The idea that creativity comes out of difficulty is true of this movie. The scene in which Dracula appears as a huge bat to Van Helsing and co. came out of Oldman’s frustrations with this confrontation scene. Rehearsals were going well beyond their set time for this scene because Oldman just didn’t feel that there was anything special that would invoke such terror in the others. He strongly felt that there needed to be some visual horror for them to behold, and thus, the bat suit was created.
9.) The costume were created from nightmares
The costumes were literally born of nightmares. Coppola gave no specific instructions, but told the designers to bring him things inspired by their own nightmares and the research they had done on the book and the history of Vlad the Impaler. Dracula’s armour is one of the most iconic costume pieces from the movie, giving the impression of muscle fibre on the outside.
10.) Charlie Sheen, Drew Barrymore and Steve Buscemi were considered for the roles
The casting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula could have been very different, and if initial thoughts on casting were followed through, there’s no doubt that we would have seen a different movie. Charlie Sheen auditioned for Jonathan Harker, and Juliette Lewis was the first choice for Lucy Westenra. Drew Barrymore was considered for the role of Mina, and Steve Buscemi was offered the role of Renfield, but he refused.
The love story element was not new. It was first used by Dan Curtis in his 1974 version of Dracula with Jack Palance, Curtis coming up with the idea of Lucy being the reincarnation of his former love to give him greater motivation for travelling to England. It was also the first version to directly link Dracula with Vlad Tepes and make him a more sympathetic character. Not evil but trapped by circumstance. Coppola freely borrowed these innovations, but making Mina the reincarnation.