2009
08.24

The Dracula Film Culture

In 1922, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, was directed and released by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, as an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but, unable to attain the rights to the story, names and other details were changed. The vampire antagonist was Count Orlok instead. The man who acted as Dracula, later Count Orlock, was Max Shreck; a mysterious individual, whose date of birth is even uncertain. The man’s name “Shreck” literally means “fright” which has caused many to suspect that there was no such individual, and instead… a famous actor, whom only took up a pseudonym. However, the actors suspected to be Max Shreck have all been disproved.

Bela Lugosi first played Dracula on a Broadway stage, in 1927. Hamilton Deane and his company adapted the story in 1924, with the permission of Stoker’s estate. Later on the story is revised, and John L. Balderston takes it to Broadway in 1927; the legendary Lugosi getting his time on stage. The film was made in 1931, and Bela Lugosi again starred in the leading role. The Library of Congress deemed the film culturally significant in 2000, and selected it for preservation. In 1999, the remarkably talented composer, Philip Glass, created a musical score for the film; the DVD now includes the music. Bela Lugosi plays Armand Tesla, in the 1944 film Return of the Vampire; who in essence is Dracula. The last time the legendary Lugosi is on screen as Dracula, is in the 1948 film Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

In 1979 this film was remade, into Nosferatu The Vampyre, written and directed by Werner Herzog, though this time, they actually managed to obtain the rights to the story, so the characters were in fact named “Count Dracula,” et cetera. Francis Ford Coppola directed the film, in 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which introduced Dracula as Vlad Dracul, and romanticised the story much more than perhaps it had been intended to be. Variations of Count Dracula, Vlad Dracul are still being created today. It is one of the world’s most influential stories, and the history behind the man who inspired some of the best vampire stories is as fascinating as the adaptation of his life, however changed throughout the centuries it may be.

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