Dracula…race against mind
There have been many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s immortal vampire tale, Dracula.
I’d be hard-pressed to tally the number I’ve seen.
Yet, it seems to me that every version I’ve seen has been missing one important element in the original book.
Many of you know that the character of Dracula is based on an historical character called Vlad the Impaler.
I don’t know that most moviemakers (and I won’t claim to know about all of the adaptations) have realized what that means.
Vlad was a brilliant strategist and tactician. While undoubtedly many of his acts (including, yes, impaling people are seen as brutal, he held off vastly superior forces through carefully thought-out actions.
In terms of war, the average person would have no chance to out-think Vlad.
That’s what’s missing.
Van Helsing, who is a scientist, knows who Dracula is. Dracula has apparently only recently awakened…he has regained his full faculties yet.
He makes mistakes in the beginning of the book…opportunities when an average person could have stopped him.
But they fail.
So, it is a race against time.
Dracula clearly has physical superiority.
When he clears his head, he’ll have mental superiority (in terms of tactics) as well.
To me, that’s one of the really cool parts of the book.
Van Helsing…scientist, book-learning…Dracula, one of the most brilliant tacticians even.
Every second, the odds of Van Helsing winning become less and less…and he’ll lose because he’ll be out-thought.
How frustrating that must be for a man who has made his name with his brain!
Van Helsing addresses the Vlad question here:
“He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. If it be so, then was he no common man, for in that time, and for centuries after, he was spoken of as the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the `land beyond the forest.’ That mighty brain and that iron resolution went with him to his grave, and are even now arrayed against us.”
Later in the book, the Professor makes the issue of Dracula’s increasing capabilities explicit:
““Ah, my child, I will be plain. Do you not see how, of late, this monster has been creeping into knowledge experimentally. How he has been making use of the zoöphagous patient to effect his entry into friend John’s home; for your Vampire, though in all afterwards he can come when and how he will, must at the first make entry only when asked thereto by an inmate. But these are not his most important experiments. Do we not see how at the first all these so great boxes were moved by others. He knew not then but that must be so. But all the time that so great child-brain of his was growing, and he began to consider whether he might not himself move the box. So he began to help; and then, when he found that this be all-right, he try to move them all alone. And so he progress, and he scatter these graves of him; and none but he know where they are hidden. He may have intend to bury them deep in the ground. So that he only use them in the night, or at such time as he can change his form, they do him equal well; and none may know these are his hiding-place! But, my child, do not despair; this knowledge come to him just too late!”
Looking to make Dracula fresh? Play this angle. I’d love to see Dracula fighting with himself, trying to get back to full consciousness…and with each step up from the abyss of the animal-like creature he was when he first awakened, he becomes more of a threat.
You can download the original novel for free here:
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.