With this 2006 version, Dracula has been somewhat reconceptualised along the lines of a BBC costume drama that is to say produced with an emphasis on the textural and social realism of the era and cast with a number of good-looking young faces. The period atmosphere is conducted with a degree of competence and conviction, although it is also clear that Dracula is being made on a medium budget. The director is Bill Eagles who had previously made the mediocrely received London gangster chic film Beautiful Creatures (2000).
Of all the numerous screen adaptations of the story, Dracula 2006 must offer the most radical reinterpretation of the Bram Stoker story to date even when placed up against Guy Maddins Dracula: Pages from a Virgins Diary (2002), which retold the story as a ballet. This is the only adaptation that has made the relatively minor character of Arthur Holmwood into the lead character of the story. Arthur is given some startling revisions like discovering that he has inherited the family syphilis, leaving him with a future that means only madness and disease, which propels him on a quest to find a cure. This brings him to conspiring cabal of occultists The Brotherhood of the Undead, who do not exist in the book, who persuade Holmwood to fund bringing Dracula to London. Rather than Jonathan Harker being sent to Transylvania to conduct an innocent property transaction, he is sent by The Brotherhood as a sacrifice who is never meant to return and, unlike all other versions bar Hammers Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958), Harker is killed in Transylvania rather than manages to make an escape back home. The other radical revision is the character of Van Helsing (David Suchet) who proves not to be an expert on mythology that is persuaded to come lend a hand fighting Dracula but someone who is found in a cellar of the Brotherhood of the Undead where has been kept a prisoner for several years.
These changes are certainly radical on the other hand, one sits back wondering what purpose they serve. There is the sense of the scriptwriter trying to create a backstory to the events of Dracula and winding Draculas purpose in coming to England, Van Helsing, Jonathans journey to Transylvania and Holmwoods fears of his marriage to Lucy together in a complicatedly interconnected narrative, which it never was in the book. It makes for a novel interpretation, although ultimately adds almost nothing to Dracula other than the writer deciding to put their own authorial imprint on the work by messing around with the familiar elements. (If anything, with the addition of guilty secrets among the Victorian upper-classes and secret aristocratic societies, Dracula 2006 comes closer to being a remake of Hammers Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) than it does an adaptation of Bram Stokers novel).
The film does finally gain some sizzle when it comes to the scenes of Marc Warrens Dracula seducing Sophia Myless Lucy a scene that takes place with her lying on the bed next to Dan Stevens Holmwood who remains asleep throughout. The forbiddenness of the seduction, which takes place silently with she writhing beneath Draculas caress is striking and all the more so for managing to conjuring an eroticism on television in a scene where the principals remain mostly clothed throughout. It is here that Dracula 2006 starts to work in tapping into the sense that lies underneath Stoker of Dracula as a force of sexuality that comes to corrupt prim and proper Victorian women and turn them into voluptuous vixens. There is a striking series of connections that play as an undertow to the scene that are even more potent than Stoker makes them Arthurs fear of syphilis and refusal to touch Lucy and consummate their marriage, his desperate appeal to Dracula as a cure, only for Dracula to instead seduce the frustrated and unwanted Lucy.
Among the youth cast, the one that stands out is the only well-known name among the group Sophia Myles who is a strong and assured Lucy. Marc Warren makes for a pouty Dracula. He has been outfitted more than ever to look like Lord Byron (who purportedly was one of Bram Stokers inspirations for the character of Dracula). In the role, Warren occasionally creates a dark magnetism but mostly looks too cute and boyish to fill a role as big as Dracula.
Other adaptations of Dracula are: the silent German classic Nosferatu (1922); Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi; the Spanish language version Dracula (1931) shot on the same sets as the Lugosi version starring Carlos Villarias; Hammers classic Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) with Christopher Lee; Dracula in Pakistan (1967), an uncredited remake of the Hammer film; Count Dracula (1970), Jess Francos version also with Lee; Dracula (1974), the Dan Curtis tv movie starring Jack Palance that was released to cinemas, Count Dracula (1977), the BBC mini-series with Louis Jourdan; Dracula (1979) with Frank Langella; Werner Herzogs remake Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) with Klaus Kinski; Francis Ford Coppolas visually ravishing Bram Stokers Dracula (1992), featuring Gary Oldman; Guy Maddins silent ballet adaptation Dracula: Pages from a Virgins Diary (2002); the Italian tv movie Dracula (2002) with Patrick Bergin that updates the story to the present day; the low-budget modernised Dracula (2009); Dario Argentos Dracula (2012) with Thomas Kretschmann as Dracula; and the tv series Dracula (2013-4) with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Fan-edited trailer here:-
Full film available online here:-