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After Extensive Research, I Have Determined That Count Dracula Is a Huge Movie Fan
What, exactly, was Dracula's reason for going to London in the first place?
I rewatched Bram Stoker’s Dracula this week for… reasons.
And while there’s lots of things I’d like to talk about—like, for instance, how the film just sort of skates over the fact that Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) spends something like a month having a bloody orgy with Dracula’s (Gary Oldman) “brides”, and Mina (Winona Ryder) immediately takes him back, no biggie—today we’ll be delving into one particular plot point.
The film begins with Harker traveling from London to Transylvania to conclude some business with Count Dracula, which is necessitated after Harker’s coworker loses his freaking mind after spending too much time with the Count. The leg of the trip through Transylvania is all kinds of WTF, but Harker somehow has the wherewithal to act like it’s all business as usual. He draws up the paperwork while the Count is just lurking malevolently in his bed clothes, like a cross between Emperor Palpatine and Hugh Hefner. Then again, most outrageously wealthy people are strange. Maybe this really is business as usual for Harker.
The business at hand is real estate. The Count is buying property in London, for reasons that aren’t fully explained. Harker puts the question to Dracula, but before he can answer, he sees Mina’s picture and goes all Dream Weaver.
Dracula then conspires to keep Harker in Transylvania for a month going on forever, while he absconds to London to steal Harker’s girl. It seems pretty clear that Dracula is calling an audible based on the new information that someone closely resembling his long-lost love is in London. I don’t think he’d planned on kidnapping Harker until he sees Mina.
Which begs the question: What, exactly, was Dracula planning on doing when he gets to London? Why is he going at all? He has a good thing going in Transylvania! A dreary atmosphere just right for his milky complexion. A literal wolf pack. Gypies eager to serve. He’s the King, baby, and everyone is hailing him. What could possibly draw him out of the comfy confines of his dilapidated castle?
Well, what’s the very first thing he does after arriving in London?
Pledge your allegiance to this nerdy flag!
(After the weird bit of beastiality where he seduces Lucy as a wolfman—that clearly doesn’t count, he’d been on a ship for weeks and obviously was starving, we’ve all been there I’m sure.)
No, the first real thing he does is get on his aristocratic John Lennon drip to go catch a show. He’s spent centuries watching the wallpaper peel back in Transylvania. Here was the chance for some true entertainment. That Mina happens to be walking around only allows for a convenient meet-cute. She rebuffs his initial approach—"excuse me, I’m lost,” might seal the deal in Transylvania, but this is London, my guy, buy an atlas—which prompts him to come with the honesty.
Dracula: “I am only looking for the cinematograph. I understand it is a wonder of the civilized world.”
Mina: “If you seek culture, visit a museum.”
Mina is looking to dip out of the conversation before this creeper starts making assumptions about why she’s talking to him. Good on her. But she must have a thing for guys that stare without blinking, because next thing you know, she going to the movies with this guy she just met. And Dracula has gotta be thinking, “OMG, I can’t believe this is happening. I’m taking my long-lost, newly-found girl to the cinematograph. Okay, be cool. Be cool. Is it too early to bust out the old yawn-and-stretch move at the theater?”
This has mostly been conjecture and bullshit up to this point, but here’s the nail in this particular coffin. Even though Dracula has reunited with his reincarnated love against all odds, he stands in the cinematograph tent amazed at the moving pictures. Like all men in the history of the universe, he can’t peel his eyes away. It’s just a fact of life. Guys pee standing up and also stare at any screen that is on.
I once went to a Mexican restaurant with my wife and watched a soccer game even though it was telecast in Spanish and I don’t watch soccer. I tried to pull my eyes away, really I did, but that TV had a hold on me. In the movie, Anthony Hopkins tells the female vampires “the power of Christ compels you,” while he’s brandishing a crucifix, and they listen. I’m not suggesting TV has any spiritual powers, just that it is freaking compelling.
When the show ends, Dracula is shook. “Astounding. There are no limits to science.” This, right here, was his whole purpose in coming to London. To see something he’d never seen before, despite all his immortality. In an alternate universe, I like to think he bought a cinematograph, shipped it home, and sat around in his PJs watching the one movie in all of existence.
Unfortunately, he forgot all about his original reason for coming to London in his obsession to possess Mina, and ended up dead. Frankly, this is why I stopped dating.