Due to being made by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the two people who made BBC Sherlock happen, this particular piece of Dracula was highly anticipated for me, if not the most.
To start with, let me just say the choice of actors is absolutely superb. Each one does the job so well I can’t even begin telling you. But most of all, Claes Bang, Count Dracula, my Prince of the Darkness, outshines them all, portraying a hot beast of a man to perfection. The way he moved, carried himself, his face, his tone, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better actor for this role.
Since the episodes come in the three movie long parts, I’ll try to make a short review for each one. A review and opinion, as I do with the books:
1. “The Rules of the Beast”:
Jonathan Harker is summoned to Transylvania where he’s to help Count Dracula with some legal work, papers, property purchases. But Count has more plans for the man, and soon Harker finds himself losing his mind in the wicked castle full of screams and not a living soul in sight.
Parallel to this story, we witness Harker tell it to a nun in a monastery, where they took care of him. She seems to not only believe his impossible tale, but further pushes him to tell even more: what has happened to Jonathan Harker to leave a husk out of a young man? And how has such a prized Bride of the Devil himself – escape? On top of that, if he did escape or even was let go – why was it done so, why was it allowed? Where is the Devil? Where is Dracula?…
My Opinion: A breath of fresh air. Dracula wants to understand what he is and how he is what he is, so he experiments with people. In his own words, he’s trying to reproduce, aka create a vampire. And Harker fits the bill to try it on. Thus he’s being referred to as one of Dracula’s Brides. And since vampirism seems to be transmitted through blood, a question, for the first time out loud, is given: what relation, what conduct must it be for one to get this disease of the blood in them?
As Harker grows clearly sicker, Count Dracula is getting younger. But the manipulation provided is not necessarily supernatural. There’s power in the former warlord, power of someone used to lead armies into battles, command people. And Harker finds himself submitting to this overpowering will. To a point where his mind cracks and he’s left a raving lunatic.
2. “Blood Vessel”:
Count Dracula boards the infamous Demeter in hopes to reach the shores of England. Curated, lured in, tricked passengers will serve as his menu of clever, wise, rich, and just outright interesting meals. All while he tells this story to sister Agatha Van Helsing at a game of chess, spinning a wicked tale of deception and murder in plain sight. Up until she figures out his game and the two powerful minds clash before the eyes of what’s left in Demeter.
My Opinion: I always enjoyed the tale of Demeter and how Dracula managed to put it on safe ground without a living soul on board. This is a superb take on it, a tale worthy of Sherlock and Agatha Christie. Dracula shows us not only how vampire functions, but how he evolves too, what blood does to him, his mind, the rules that bind him. This episode might just be my favorite one
3. “The Dark Compass”:
Count Dracula is quickly learning the rules of new life in this new age. From wi-fi to lawyers to parties to consent. New age offers new kind of people too. All kinds of nonbelievers, radicals, strangers, egocentrics, people consumed with having fun and getting validated. People consumed with living life to its fullest. Finally, it seems, he has another proper shot at getting a perfect bride. A modern one, one who wouldn’t be afraid of living forever.
“I knew future would bring wonders. I did not know it would make them ordinary.”
My Opinion: Dracula seems to have had a change of heart here. Not only does he not deploy all those wonders he so much admired to learn more of what he is, what vampires are, how undeath works, he himself seems to soon be consumed by the highlights of life. Sister Agatha travels time through blood, so to speak, just to play one last match with Count Dracula and it seems, at last, she knows where the chink in the armor of an ancient warlord is.
This might just be the best and the worst episode at the same time. While every other piece sort of gave you classical tale with a new take on it, this one gave you… Less. It seems that most if not all creators who take up Dracula for a remake forget their first step in the vampirism: the extreme will to live. And twist it into an extreme fear of death instead. How can a man of Dracula’s caliber reach the modern age, with every book in existence at the finger tips, and decide they’re up to die now? Although, Dracula’s death remains debatable. IMDB has no end date as of yet, and we don’t exactly see him die either. We only learn that all the things he thought were deadly to him – could have been rendered useless as one shed the old skin of superstition. So I do dearly hope this is not the end yet and that Gatiss and Moffat will do right by us.
I crave to get back to my roots, where I obsessed to you all about all things Dracula. So now and again I’ll provide here a review of something not necessarily bookish, but Dracula related. The less book related Dracula will be reviewed over at [Ego Noctis] blog, and the more book related ones will be posted here. All available under one roof of my Patreon though, if you prefer one place to read it all.
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