A noticeable difference in the way movies have changed over the years is evident when comparing and contrasting two films of different eras which belong to the same genre and contain the same subject matter. Two vampire movies, Dracula and Bram Stoker's Dracula, present an interesting example of this type of study.
Comparing the 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, with Frances Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula 1993 version yields some similarities. Both films are of the same genre: Horror. Both films are set around the same time period. Also, both deal with a vampire coming to England and causing disruptions in people's lives. Beyond these few similarities are numerous contrasts.
An obvious difference in these films is that the 1931 version played to a Depression audience and that the Coppola version played to a modern audience. (I am being extremely careful because, obviously, the 1931 audience was modern in 1931; however, we like to think of ourselves as being more modern than past generations. There are differences in the audiences which viewed the respective versions in their time, and I hope to prove this point as the paper unfolds.)
When we compare the portrayal of characters in the areas of gender, race, and age, we find striking contrasts. In the 1931 version, men's roles are well-defined: they are the protectors. For example, Jonathan hovers over Mina in many scenes, giving us the impression that Mina is a helpless creature. In Coppola's version, Jonathan is by no means a protector. He barely escapes Dracula's castle; Mina has to go to him--to protect him.
Also interesting, are the differences in the portrayal of the women in these film...
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... audience handle this, or is it because they demand realism?
Possibly, this demand for realistic interpretation of subject matter is a major cause of the differences between these films; however, as was shown in this paper, there are also other reasons for the variations. 1931 was a time of poverty for many Americans who needed escape into a film where traditional values were upheld: where God wins; where men and women's roles are well-defined; and where order reigns. Coppola's version has been released in a time where the patriarchal system has begun to break down; where prejudice is no longer acceptable (still practiced, but not acceptable); and where we require everything to be extreme.
Bram Stoker's Dracula. Dir. Frances Ford Coppola. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1993.
Dracula. Dir. Tod Browning. Universal Pictures Corporation, 1931.
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