Media Coursework – Comparison between “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” using media terminology. In this essay, I shall be analysing the opening 15 minutes of two films using media terminology. The two films I shall be looking at are of the same basic genre (horror): “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” – (1968, directed by Freddie Francis, a ‘Hammer House of Horror’ film) and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” – (1992, directed by Frances Ford Coppola).
Because these films were screened at different times and their directors were different as individuals, it should make an interesting contrast of sources, ideas and effects between the two. They both portray certain fictitious events involving the creature created by Bram Stoker – Dracula, who is, as most will know, of the mythical vampire species. I will be studying the film techniques, shots, lighting etc of the two films and analysing them carefully using media “jargon”.
The stories of these two films are very different, though they are both based on the same creature. In “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”, the story is as follows: A young boy who works for the church as an errand boy discovers a dead woman in the belfry of the church that he works in. The audience is led to believe that Dracula had killed her and drained her of blood. The boy then becomes dumb after the shock of this traumatising experience.
Almost a year after this event had taken place, the village in which the said event had taken place was visited by the High Priest who decides to call in and check up on all of the proceedings in church. He is shocked to find that the church has been deserted because the villagers are still afraid of Dracula’s presence even on holy ground. The High Driest demands that the church’s Priest come with him on a journey up to Dracula’s castle to prove to him that he is indeed dead. (The High Priest knows that Dracula has in fact died and fallen into a river where he still lies. As the two Priests venture up the mountain, one falls and breaks the ice, which covers the river in which Dracula lies. The Vampire awakens from his icy grave and lives again!
In “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, the story is slightly less complicated and more straightforward. It tells the story of the uprising of Muslim Turks in about the 13th Century. A Romanian Knight, Dracula, halts their advance in Transylvania and puts down the uprising in the name of Christianity. When he returns to his castle, he finds that his beloved wife, Elisabeta, has committed suicide after hearing false news of his death delivered to her by the vengeful Turks.
It is revealed to him that she cannot enter the kingdom of heaven because she has taken her own life according to God’s holy law. Upon hearing this tragic news, Dracula snaps and goes into a “fury frenzy” where he renounces God because he took his wife and stabs the crucifix with his sword. Blood gushes out of the centre of it. Dracula takes a chalice (or a goblet, an ancient cup used for the consumption of wine), fills it with this blood and drinks it. Upon doing so, he damns himself to becoming “undead” (the living dead, or the risen dead). In other words he “embraces” Satan in return for immortality.
Later, in the 19th Century, a young accountant Jonathan Harker is given the task of sorting “Count” Dracula’s papers and records. He sets off towards Transylvania, leaving Mina, his fiancï¿½. Upon reaching the castle, having had a perilous journey, he meets the unbelievably strange and reclusive Count Dracula. There is an extremely clever shot in this scene where Harker steps out of the darkness into light, perhaps signifying him stepping out of his ignorance and into finding out the truth about the weird Count Dracula whom no one knows very much about. This story shows Dracula’s more human, sensitive side, a huge contrast to the hideous, bloodthirsty monster that other directors portray him to be.
(Everybody knows that the Bram Stoker’s story of Dracula is of course fiction but did you know that there was a certain element of truth in the novel? In the 13th Century, there was a Romanian Warlord called Vlad Dracule who put down a Muslim revolt at about the same time as the fictional Dracula did. He was awarded the “Order of the Dragon” and was given the title “Dracula”. Not many people know that Vlad had a habit of impaling his dead enemies heads on stakes – hence his nickname; Vlad the Impaler-: this is where Stoker attained his idea for Dracula’s memorable method of execution: a stake through the heart. A vampire legend is also to cut off a dead vampire’s head, stuff it with garlic and impale it on a pole!).
The style of these two films actually completely different from each other even though they both involve the same character – Dracula. “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” gives off a far more realistic feel because it has a more everyday feel to it – nothing from the films set would actually surprise someone altogether. Less special effects are used, there is almost no symbolism at all and the plot is reasonably believable as stories go.
We do not know where exactly the film is set, only that it is somewhere in a mountainous area, probably Eastern Europe. However there is nothing to say that it could not be set in England for example. The actors always speak English (this is of course customary but the voices also do not have any kind of accent), their skin colour never gives anything away to do with where they might be from and their customs do not really make signification either. All we know about their customs that we see on screen is that they are Roman Catholic and say Mass in Latin.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is rather different though, as it is very unrealistic. It even has a mild fairytale element to it, although the story itself is far from a fairytale. It uses more effects than the other film mentioned above and gathers in many other styles of production, for example Chinese theatre. It gives subtitles translating the used language (Latin: to show how educated the people were) to English. It tells us where it was set (Transylvania, Eastern Europe, somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains). The film’s special effects are certainly far more advanced than the other film I reviewed! For example, the blood is far thinner and darker than the liquid used in the sixties (classically referred to as “Ketchup”!).
The amazing wonders of computer animation also add a certain unreal feeling to it. For example the eyes in the train carriage window and the picture of Elisabeta falling to her death, as portrayed in her suicide note. The introduction in the film is extremely well set, as there is lots of symbolism: for example, the Crescent moon on the top of the Mosque seen at the start of the film shows that Islam is completely dominant. A lot of thinking went into the making of this film and this is obvious when watched.