Dracula: A Personal Perspective

[writtern by reviewer, Mihai Adascalitei]

I was born in the land of Dracula, but have honestly never seen the attraction in vampires.

Castle Bran: 'Home of Dracula'

Still, Bram Stoker’s Dracularemains an interesting book, and one novel that I remember without effort. The fictional character of Dracula is associated with the historical figure of Vlad Tepes, one of the most imposing figures of Romanian history, but the association doesn’t always do Vlad justice.

Vlad Tepes: Mass murderer or slightly misunderstood?

He is seen as a very cruel figure but I dare to suggest that Vlad Tepes was not all that different from other rulers of his period. Raised from an early age at the High Porte, Vlad might have picked up a few torture methods from the Ottoman Empire but there are references of another Romanian ruler of that time, Stefan III of Moldavia, using the famous impaling technique. Although Vlad’s rule was short, it was dominated by hard times and he imposed equally harsh measures in return.

Another key point in the image of Vlad Țepeș is his relationship with the local boyars. Returning from his imprisonment at the High Porte he took the throne of Wallachia for a short period in 1448 and for a second time in 1455. Among his first important acts was to seek revenge for the assassination of his father and the death and torture of his older brother at the hands of the local boyars. Many were impaled as punishment and others were forced on a long march to Poenari where they were sentenced to work rebuilding a ruined fortress. Vlad Țepeș imposed new taxes on foreign merchants in order to protect local commercial activity, which led to exaggerations of the punishments he imposed on those who failed to follow his commercial laws. It is true that his favorite method of punishment was impalement, which lead to his surname Țepeș (the Impaler), but also led to a local legend; it is said that during his rule a gold cup was left in the central square of Târgoviște for thirsty travellers to drink from, and that cup was never stolen during Vlad’s reign.

It is true that his favorite method of punishment was impalement, which lead to his surname Țepeș (the Impaler), but also led to a local legend; it is said that during his rule a gold cup was left in the central square of Târgoviște for thirsty travellers to drink from, and that cup was never stolen during Vlad’s reign.

Vlad enjoys a little entertainment with his supper

The region is synonymous with the vampire, a creature that has haunted the local folklore since ancient times. Representations of evil, “strigoii”, as they were called in the past, gradually evolved into the shape-shifting, bloodthirsty beings with the power to control the human mind that we now know as vampires. John Polidori crafted a new image for the creatures with his novel The Vampyre, but Bram Stoker’s Dracula is considered to be the work that laid the foundation for the modern vampire in fiction.

The birth of cinema turned Dracula into a cinematic icon. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Dracula has 223 appearances on the silver screen, but for me the most memorable is the 1992 Francis Ford Copolla movie, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. With a few exceptions, the movie has a beautiful atmosphere, some excellent images and above all a very talented Gary Oldman in the role of Count Dracula. Impersonating a dark and dangerous character, but also injecting sensuality and elegance into his role, Gary Oldman makes a perfect Dracula. His performance is even more impressive considering the high standards imposed for this role by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. Come to think of it, there is a 1979 Romanian movie dedicated to the historical figure of Vlad Țepeș and I believe that Gary Oldman would make an excellent Vlad if the movie were to be remade.

Oldman as the greatest vampire of them all

Like I said, I was born in the land of Dracula but I am not particularly fond of vampires. Without Dracula, however, I would be drawn away from vampires definitely and irrevocably.

Greg Perreault's intepretation of Dracula

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About Mark S. Deniz

English Teacher, writer, editor, publisher, reviewer and blogger. Founder of publishing company Morrigan Books and imprint Gilgamesh Press and editor-in-chief for review site Beyond Fiction. Also cycles, plays floorball, listens to lots and lots of music, reads a ton of books and tries to fit in some TV, film and writing too. View all posts by Mark S. Deniz

4 responses to “Dracula: A Personal Perspective

  • Matt

    I agree with the Gary Oldman pick. He certainly brought a wonderful presence to the role.

    Great post. Thanks for the perspective!

  • Joleene Naylor

    It’s interesting to hear your perspective on this. One movie I really love is The Dark Prince: The true Story of Dracula. While very inaccurate, (After watching it the first time I spent an hour on wikipedia looking to see how much of the story was true – my favorite listing under the inaccuracies is the last one “Vlad rises from the dead and becomes a vampire.”) I think it does go a long way towards the idea that Vlad lived in very violent times and was surrounded by others who were just as violent, if not more so. It’s when you lift a single figure out of context from their surroundings, especially one with so many extreme legends, that they become so “monstrous”.

    I remember when Coppola’s Dracula came out, I was 12 at the time. And, while some of the later scenes in the movie left me going, “eh?” the beginning has always stuck with me; where his wife kills herself, and in his fury/misery etc he curses himself to be a vampire by drinking the blood. It’s just a very powerful scene that sets an excellent tone.

  • Nastya

    I’m part Hungarian, so I guess those relatives came from the Lesser Vampire Capital or something. I don’t like them, either, and worse yet, I have dark brown hair and the palest skin I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad that I left school before the vampire craze started, or I’d never hear the end of it!

    I don’t think Vlad was such a bad guy. No more insane than any of the other wackos ruling Europe then. In his own way, it seems as if he were trying to help, I guess! *shrug*

  • Vampire Awareness Month: The Posts « Vampire Awareness Month

    [...] Adascalitei gav us his personal perspective on one of his nation’s biggest exports, that Vlad [...]

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