Film Review : Dracula, The 1931 Film Directed By Tod Browning Essay

Film Review : Dracula, The 1931 Film Directed By Tod Browning Essay

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Dracula, the 1931 film directed by Tod Browning is loosely based upon the novel of the same name. Therefore both share similar characteristics but are distinct. The differences between the novel and film occur due to the cinematic choices made as well as the fact that the film is based off of not only the novel Dracula but also the 1924 play Dracula. One major decision made by Browning was to alter the role of Johnathan Harker. In the novel Johnathan is the solicitor who meets with Dracula in Transylvania and narrowly escapes the “veritable prison” and is a changed man due to his experiences there (25). On the other hand, in the film Johnathan never visits Transylvania. Renfield is the one who does so instead. That provides Renfield with a more diverse character than the madman he appears to be in the novel. Additionally the protagonist of the film is dissimilar to that of the novel, with the film’s protagonist being Van Helsing. By changing the role of Johnathan in the film compared to the novel, the role of Renfield and Van Helsing also change with Renfield occupying a new role in addition to his original role as a madman and Van Helsing alone becomes the protagonist.
Johnathan is a minor character in the film as opposed to the being the focus of the beginning sequence of events of the novel. In the novel Johnathan is the subject of the first four chapters and sets the foundation for later events. His words are taken seriously by the reader due to having no reason to belittle him. In contrast the film reduces Jonathan to an insignificant, childish character. Throughout the film Johnathan is seen wearing suits of a lighter color than the suits of the other characters. This choice in costume demonstrates the inferiority of Johnath...


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...than runs about the Abbey shouting Mina’s name, not doing anything that helps defeat Dracula.
Renfield and Van Helsing both become further salient as Johnathan becomes less important in the film Dracula compared to the novel Dracula. Johnathan as a character is more childish in the film, as demonstrated by the choice in clothing and actions. To compensate, the character of Renfield is altered from a man who is a servant of Dracula and believed to be a lunatic in the novel to an ordinary man who is forced to become a servant to Dracula. Finally as Johnathan becomes more trivial to the plot of the film, Van Helsing occupies a larger role as the sole protagonist of the film; that is contrastive to the novel where the protagonist is a group which Van Helsing is a part of. By revising the role of Johnathan in the film the plot is updated and made variant from the novel.

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