In this assignment I will be analysing a 7-8 minute clip of the film ‘Dracula – love never dies’ which was directed by the famous director Francis Ford Coppola whose other famous films include: ‘The Godfather Trilogy’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’ and I will be commenting on how the director gives us the impression Jonathan is in danger. It is a horror film and had its general cinema release in 1992. It is based on the book ‘Count Dracula’ which was written 1897 by Bram Stoker. The clip I am studying is Jonathan Harker’s (Keanu Reeves) journey to the castle of Count Dracula. Jonathan is a lawyer who works in London, his fianci??
e Mina (Winona Ryder) was married in a past life to Dracula (Gary Oldman). Dracula is immortal and has lived ever since the death of Mina. Dracula finds out Mina is engaged to Jonathan and calls the company Jonathan works for to enquire about buying a property in London in the hope he will get Mina back. He keeps Jonathan at his castle until Mina comes looking for him. Jonathan is unaware of this because he believes he is going to Transylvania on a business trip. The director uses: setting, camera shots and the sound track to create a sense of danger around Jonathan.
Jonathan’s journey begins by train, travelling from the East into the West. Then he leaves the train where he is picked up by coach and left in a remote place, then taken by a strange ‘creature’ to Dracula’s castle. The clip begins in a tropical garden somewhere in London. Soft melodic music can be heard in the background alongside birds and running water this gives the audience the impression that Jonathan is safe and free from danger because their is no threat posed to Jonathan from anything in the scene. Jonathan and Mina are discussing Jonathan’s return from Transylvania.
They are making plans to get married. At this point, the audience’s attention is drawn to the peacock’s feather, which is moving clockwise across the screen. As this is happening, the camera is moving towards the peacock feather and the audience’s attention is drawn to one eye in particular then camera moves towards the eye until it is in the centre of the screen, the background music changes and the eye becomes a tunnel. The audience has the view of the train from a first person point of view and at this point the music becomes louder and you start to hear the train.
From the train you can see wooden tracks. This is common of the time, which would be around late 1800’s; also the train is a steam train. That is an important factor the director thought of when setting the film. In the background you can see an orange sky that is predominant throughout the scene. The shot is slightly out of focus but a large threatening mountain range can be clearly seen in the background. One thing that is clearly noticeable is that there is no civilisation at all in the region. This gives us the impression that the area is dangerous and no one wants to live there.
In the background deep, threatening orchestral music can be still heard. Two shots merge together, one of Jonathan and the other of the train tracks. We see this as if we are the train. The director chose to do this to show that it is Jonathan who is on a journey. Then the screen is divided horizontally. On the top half is a close up of Jonathan’s diary and the other, is a long shot/straight angle shot of the train moving left to right across the screen, again the orange sky is predominant. We presume that Jonathan is reading from his diary because he says,
“25th May Budapest. Left Budapest early this morning” Jonathan speaks in a well-spoken English accent. In the next shot we see a medium shot/straight angle shot of Jonathan appearing to be reading from his diary and the subtitle says, “Jonathan Harkers Journal 25th May” He is wearing a high white collared shirt, which was typical dress of the Victorian times. During this scene, the train is moving constantly. Jonathan looks out of the window and then at a map. The audience’s attention is drawn to a blue eye on the map, which is highlighting Transylvania.
The theme of the eye is repeated throughout the scene, which gives us the impression Jonathan is being watched. Then we see a close up/straight angle shot of Jonathan’s face, with the image of the map on his face. The director chose to do this to show the importance of Transylvania. Jonathan is travelling first class on his journey and we can tell this because in his carriage, he has thick curtains and expensive looking interior. During the whole scene, the tassels on the curtain are moving constantly and the director did this to show the train is moving constantly.