This is the kind of classic novel that makes me glad I started this list of books to read, or else I may never have picked this one up. Some of the classics we take for granted, because we (think we) know the story so well already.
The only image I had of Dracula was Bela Lugosi, with his black widow’s peak. After reading Bram Stoker’s original novel, I wonder where that image ever came from. The Dracula played by Gary Oldman was far closer to the image I had in mind while reading the book. Dracula had a moustache!
Immediately after finishing the book I watched Francis Ford Coppola’s movie adaptation. While there were some amazing scenes and casting (Tom Waits played the lunatic!), this was very much NOT Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Stoker’s Dracula was a love story, but never between Dracula and Mina. She was repulsed by him, and it was her true love and devotion to her husband that destroyed Dracula in the end (stake in heart, not broken heart). Mina was a strong, devoted, brilliant woman, and Coppola stripped her of those virtues, making her a weak-minded, love-sick traitor. Booooo.
Anthony Hopkins gets a bunch of thumbs up from me for his role of Van Helsing. I didn’t know that the Van Helsing name/ character was invented by Stoker; I always thought there were deeper, more factual roots. Coppola did a very good job of casting the role; Hopkins fit the character even better than the mental image I had in my mind.
I didn’t know much of the history of the Dracula character; there are loose ties to Vlad the Impaler, but Count Dracula is really just a figment of Stoker’s imagination. He set the stage for literally hundreds of vampire movies, books, etc., all putting a different twist on the vampire “rules” (sadly, this is where sparkly vampires come into play). According to Wiki, as of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role. That’s some powerful writing. Much like Frankenstein, Wolf Man and the Mummy, these characters have taken on a life of their own and far surpassed the death of their creators, proving them truly immortal.