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avoiding the topic - the front row

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December 8th, 2008


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11:35 am - avoiding the topic
Saw the 1979 version of Dracula last night. It's not extraordinary (except perhaps for the liberties it takes with the original story) but it has an even-handedness that some more recent versions lack. Frank Langella plays the Count as intellectual, compelling, and charismatic, but not overtly creepy or 'metro'; his seduction of (in this version) Lucy Seward is believable, because he generally seems affectionate towards her and she towards him. (NB there's no poorly played lost-love/reincarnation narrative as there was in Francis Ford Coppola's version.) Because of the civilized of most of the movie, the scenes where it does go over the top are almost comically misplaced; the discovery of Mina Van Helsing (no seriously) as a vampire and the climax between Van Helsing et al. and the Count are happily brief and rely too heavily on special effects.
There are also interesting gender narratives that I can't quite address in brief here, sadly. This version compares favorably enough with the Guy Maddin version from 2002; they have the same sense of swooning romanticism, although Guy Madden's plays much more with silent film techniques and beats one over the head with the colonialist subtext. If you're sick of slick Dracula reimaginings, either of these two films might be your antidote.
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