Bram Stoker's Dracula (Silent Film Version)Featured
- Chapter titles
It had been years since I'd revisited my copy of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA. Now, I feel I won't need to again. This fanedit takes Coppola's goregous but flawed movie and reincarnates it using the framing of the original novel and the trappings of a silent film, and in the process creates something that both delights the Stoker purist in me, tantalizes my old horror move buff tendencies, while still holding onto, and in many places enhancing, the sumptuous visuals that made the original film memorable. This will be a treat to return to come Halloween. Bravo!
How often do I get to say that an edit's storyline is borderline indecipherable, yet I enjoyed the fuck out of it and without hesitation would recommend it to just about anyone looking for a superlative vampire fix?
Without familiarity with Bram Stoker's novel or the various cinematic incarnations of Dracula, viewers could easily get lost trying to untangle the narrative. No matter—this version's not meant to accommodate them. I really dug Coppola's Dracula, but this edit, with its sumptuous and immersive silent-era visuals and scene-sensitive score, takes the 1992 film to the next level.
Both audio tracks—take your pick—provide mood-setting scores, and both complement the visuals superbly.
The intertitles are a bit difficult to read at times; this has been mentioned in other reviews and the ITW thread, so I won't elaborate here.
This issue has no effect on my numerical ratings, but it should be noted that the file size is unnecessarily large at 4.5 GB. For a 52-minute edit, 720 pixels in height but considerably less than 1280 pixels in width, if one excludes the peripheral black spaces, a file 1.5 to 2 GB would have been sufficient with nary a loss in quality.
I mention these minor gripes without any less enthusiasm for this edit. It's a gorgeous experience, and I'd bet five liters of blood that genuine, real-life vampires would also enjoy the fuck out of this.
This is a really good fanedit; I'm a sucker for the idea of presenting/editing a film into a different style than its original form, and this edit is a very very good example of how to go about it.
Audio and video quality are both great - I haven't listened to the complete alternate score, but have no reason to assume there are any problems there.
The video editing is mostly very strong - the use of tinting was very nice, with a number of subtleties that helped sell the effect. Similarly, the styling on the titlecards and fades/transitions were very nice, and the film-aging effect was elegantly restrained, present without drawing undue attention to itself. Unfortunately, there are still some issues - while I really appreciate the font chosen, combined with the font size and titlecard duration it was almost impossible to read the entirety of any titlecards more than 2 lines long. Similarly some of the transitions felt hurried. I don't want to end this part on a negative note, though, so I'll mention here that there were a number of shots that were simply breathtaking as presented here - the flash of lightning when Harker is in the coach on the way to Dracula's castle is but one of many memorable images in this edit.
Narratively, I felt it was very good for someone already familiar with the story and Coppola's film (or Nosferatu, for that matter). The breakneck pace never lets up and actually becomes somewhat disorienting towards the end, with several shots in the climactic chase sequence feeling too short to be effective. Combined with the brevity of the intertitles, I suspect someone new to the material would have a hard time keeping up. In this regard it felt like some of the editing choices were made to suit the running time of the score rather than the narrative, which is rather unfortunate.
It may seem that I'm complaining a lot about this edit; that's not my intention. This edit is definitely worth viewing, flaws notwithstanding - if you like Coppola's film, or Murnau's Nosferatu, you will almost certainly derive a great deal of enjoyment from this edit. The fact that such a high standard has been achieved by a first-time editor is even more commendable; I look forward to seeing whatever Paulisdead turns their hand to next.
One can never have too many Silent era productions.
Faneditor Paulisdead has not only rendered Coppola’s 1992 Dracula into a silent movie, but he has distilled the running time to 51‘, shorter than Murnau’s Nosferatu, as well as the 1931 Dracula.
I am going to nitpick away on this, but this is really an outstanding edit which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Video - 1280 X 720 AVC. Holy moly, at 4.5 GB, this is fat. The “look” is appropriate. A bit of jerkiness and undercranking, but not excessive. Silents suffered in later years because they were shown at too high a speed. Thank you for not going overboard with the damage (scratches, streaks). I would classify this as a late teens or early 20s Silent as opposed to a later 20s production. Some of the fadeouts were abrupt.
Clips from the ‘31 version were thoughtful and not intrusive. If there were any from the Mexican version I did not catch them. Nice use of tinting. There might have been more blue for night scenes, but I could appreciate the more subtle use of showing blue during lightning flashes.
Audio - 224 kbps AC3. 2 Channel stereo. I never listen to the Glass score when watching the ‘31, yet it was fine here. The themes and motifs matched the activity on the screen. Other editors who attempt Silents could learn from the choices here. The piano version of same score feels different. I enjoy that, as well. Hard to pick a favorite.
This is usually where I write “No Subs.” Not this time. There are intertitles throughout. The font for larger header cards is ornate, for dialogue, less so. The intertitles are too brief and too small. The brevity might have been compensated for with a larger size. This was commented on while the edit was still in progress.
Narrative - The original clocked in at 2‘ 8“. More than 50% has been cut. There is a real lack of cohesion in the story. I know FE members have seen (own) the ‘92 version. For anyone new to Dracula, this is too choppy, with poor characters. Renfield could have been omitted altogether, more time given to Dracula and the hunters. Bumping the running time to 60-75“ might have fleshed out the tale, too. There were a couple stills inserted, one at 30.54, which were barely seen. This edit is breathless. The pace races and it is hard to take in at times.
Enjoyment - Oh, absolutely! This is extremely well done. Consider that this is also a first time edit. I sincerely hope Paulisdead continues editing and tackles other projects. One might think I’m giving him a hard time, but that is not my intention. The flaws and omissions were small in comparison with the resultant film.
For Dracula fans, for Silent era fans, for folks who like variety in their fanedits, this is an excellent choice.
Very creative and well done. =)