underthewillows: (Default)
Just saw literally two minutes of this as I was passing by into the kitchen, and I’m laughing.

First of all, it looks great. The money is all up there on the screen, as they say. I can’t speak for Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ performance as Dracula, as the snippet I saw mainly involved him standing there looking gobsmacked because he’s just clocked the woman who, I am guessing, is meant to be the reincarnation of his Lost Love.

But what makes me laugh is that it couldn’t be more pitched to appeal to an American audience if Dracula had come out dressed as George Washington, waving Old Glory and shouting “Remember the Fourth of July!” while an orchestra dressed in Revolutionary Army uniform played “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.

Dracula (for reasons I haven’t watched enough to learn) is posing as an American, you see. And the occasion is a grand ball he is giving in London, to which he has invited all the great and the important of society.

Who, to a man and woman (except the Lost Love lassie, I imagine) are the snottiest, snobbiest, most stuck-up, toffee-nosed gits you could ever have the misfortune to meet. They pass sneering remarks about him being a parvenu, a nouveau-riche, a vulgarian and - worst of all! - an American.

The only reason they turned up, as a pair of ‘em freely admit, is so they could get a good look at the guy they were going to mock.

Honestly, if Dracula summoned a pack of wolves to rip out their throats in a frenzy of blood-letting, you’d cheer him on. I certainly felt like going out and tipping a cargo of tea into the harbour, I can tell you.

So, America, I think you can tell who are the Bad Guys and who is the Tortured Misunderstood Romantic Anti-Hero in this one.

Oh, and looking up the thing on Wikipedia, I see that Dracula is meant to be an American entrepreneur bringing the benefits of science and technology to Victorian Britain.

Because Britain had no inventors or scientists of its own at the time, of course. Industrial Revolution? James Watt? Sir Isaac Newton? Charles Babbage? Charles Darwin? Never heard of ‘em round here, mate! (Never mind the fact that the novel is set in the late Victorian, almost early Edwardian era, and is chock-full to the brim of the latest up-to-date tech of the day: Dr Seward doesn't write up notes with a fountain pen, oh no: he dictates them on his phonograph wax cylinders! Mina studies shorthand and typewriting so she can work in her husband's law practice when they're married! There are telegrams and newspaper clippings and all manner of communications flying backwards and forwards! The very point of the novel is that it's the equivalent of 'This is the 20th/21st century, who believes in those crazy old mediaeval pre-scientific legends anymore?').

I am genuinely surprised the soundtrack wasn’t a choir ululating softly to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America The Beautiful”. I am somehow not at all surprised to learn this was commissioned and made by an American TV network.

(The irony of an Irish actor playing a Transylvanian count posing as an American businessman has not escaped me, by the bye). I doubt I'll be watching it myself, because I have no taste at all for the shoved-in romance element (i.e. Dracula and his Lost Love) that comes, so far as I can see, mainly from the Francis Ford Coppola movie (you know, the invention of Dracula's wife who killed herself and that's why our fella became a vampire - in a fit of the sulks at the Church or God or something) and is not present in the original novel, the source legends based around Vlad Țepeș, or the folklore. Also, again from Wikipedia, they've made the character of Jonathan Harker into a journalist(?) who is desperate to advance in society and up the ranks of the aristocracy(??)

Now, I'm very fond of my poor little innocent Jonathan, who is an orphan and a respectable, middle-class, solicitor's clerk and who wouldn't even dream of having anything to do with the aristocracy except draw up their wills and handle their property deeds for them, and who plays the part of the Virginal Damsel in Distress (quite unlike his fiancée, Mina Murray) in the original novel. Anything that turns him into a toadying prat is not likely to win my approval, though I suppose they had to come up with some reason for Mina to dump the man she is engaged to marry within five seconds of meeting Dracula ,without making her look like a heartless jilt or a total "What the hell are you thinking, girl, can't you see this guy is Bad News?" bimbo. Sorry, NBC. Stick with the blatant "U!S!A!" and "The Brits are all stuck-up hypocrites in a repressive society that needs to be shaken up by Dracula and Mina's epic love, it's so tragic, nobody understands them, TRU LUV NEVER DIES11111!!!!" instead.

However, I am certainly not saying it's not worth a look. At least (if they continue on in the vein of the pilot, heh heh did you see what I did there), it will look lush and lovely, and there may be some eyecandy of both the masculine and feminine persuasion to while away the time on these dark winter evenings in front of the telly.
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