Today`s article is not written by me but by my awesome friend Tudor Sicomas – the original article is in Romanian over on Filme-Carti.ro – I simply handled the translating for the part pertaining to Dracula.
For those of your that know romanian and want to find his top 5 on horror black &white, have a click 😉
I hope I kept it short and sweet enought 😉 Enjoy the read
One of the most well-known movie from the `30s – and most certainly one of the grandest models used for a Black-and-White film – is the version of “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi in the titular role.
After viewing other screen adaptations of the famous novel and while discussing with a good friend that also happens to be passionate about the vampiric domain, I came to the realization that Lugosi became a standard for many of the actors that “dared” to approach the role of the fanged Transilvanian count after him.
His unmistakable voice with the distinct Hungarian accent (the actor was of Hungarian descent) along with the elegance and class that oozes through his ample gestures (sometimes these gestures might look exaggerated for today`s viewer), that “rrr” so beautifully and passionately rolled… all these details make Bela Lugosi the ideal actor for Count Dracula.
Of course, one cannot ignore the various expressions and stylized gazes that the actor throws in those exquisitely shot closeups – they hypnotize you, mere mortal looking at the screen, or even at a promotional still from the movie.
Undoubtedly, the 1930s “Dracula” is a milestone for the horror genre and it still sparks debate and analysis in the academic circles to this day.
As a classical music aficionado, I cannot ignore the use of some truly remarkable sound markers – the original theme used in the opening credits is none other that Tceaikovski`s “Swan Lake”; a fitting use for this equally tragic and frightening song. Also for the scene where the
count enters Mina Harker`s lounge at the opera we can recognize “Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg” by Wagner.
Last but not least I must point out the difficulty of creating a horror film in those times. Without the use of sophisticated special effects, make-up and CGI, all the effort was placed squarely on the shoulders of the actors who had to masterfully make use of all their talent
to convey the message to the audience – those sublime facial expressions, the perfect mastering of their tones of voice, those skillfully used gazes and gestures…
It`s not a wonder that “Dracula”, along with other cinematic horror movies of the day, have withstood
the test of time and remained engraved as cult classics even after being parodied.
I am of course referring to “Dracula, Dead and loving it” starring a Leslie Nelson that did a great job at imitating and exaggerating all of Lugosi`s trademarks from the original performance.
Looking back on this movie I cannot help but admire it even more after considering all the SFX and other tricks – some more cleverly used than others, that we have all become accustomed to in recent years.
Funny sidenote: my friend was appalled at the idea of modern directors trying to do a remake of her precious classical pick for movie night.