Monday, December 22, 2008

In Search of History: The Real Dracula - review

Director: unknown

Release Date: 1998

Contains spoilers

This was the documentary that came in the set the Box of Blood and was originally produced for the History Channel.

To be honest it is pretty much fluff, coming in at just over 40 minutes there is not much meat placed upon the bones. It leads with the premise that the legend of the vampire, and the story of Dracula did have a human inspiration – Vlad Draculea. This is just plain wrong. Whilst Stoker took a name, and lifted a passage of text as back history, I would hardly say that this is an inspiration.

It is, of course, more wrong when we consider that he is the inspiration of the vampire legend. Vampire legends were, of course, around before Draculea and he was never associated with the vampire until Stoker’s work – after all he was decapitated.

Other errors appear. J Gordon Melton must be happy to know that his name is really spelt Gorton. There is an assertion that Stoker’s play of Dracula was a flop because it opened and closed in one night. Certainly Irving thought it dreary but it was never meant to be performed in that form (4 hours in length, from memory) – to copyright a play it had to be performed once and thus it was staged simply to protect Stoker’s asset and was never meant to last more than one performance at that point.

Other aspects were annoying – there are 4 segues through ad-breaks that could have been edited out prior to being compiled as an uninterrupted piece (I got sick of ‘when in search of history returns’). There is an assertion about Draculea that “Dracula’s evil soul could never be cleansed.” This refers to his resting place but I thought this was meant to be history rather than theological musings.

The narration by David Ackroyd was nothing special, but was inoffensive (in style if not content). Not really worth seeking out – there are better documentaries about Draculea the historical person, Dracula the novel, Bram Stoker the person and vampires in general. 3.5 out of 10.

The only imdb page I could find was for a 2000 production, by the same writer (Charlie Ryan) but this version was clearly copyrighted 1998 – and I assume a newer version was produced. The imdb page for the 2000 edition is here.

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