Phillip Glass Score
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Dracula (The Restored Version) Although there have been numerous screen versions of Bram Stoker's classic tale, none is more enduring than the 1931 original. The ominous portrayal of Count Dracula by Bela Lugosi, combined with horror specialist director Tod Browning, help to create the film's eerie mood. Dracula remains a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time. Dracula (Featuring New Music By Philip Glass) The original version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi has been remastered to feature a specially-composed musical score by world-renowned composer Philip Glass and performed by Kronos Quartet. Glass' music lends greater depth to an already timeless classic! Dracula (Original Spanish Version) Filmed simultaneously with the English language version, the Spanish version of Dracula is completely different, yet equally ominous vision of the horror classic. Utilizing the same sets and identical script, cinematographer George Robinson and a vibrant cast including Carlos Villarias and Lupita Tovar deliver this chilling and evocative tale.
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It was mainly a sentimental attraction, borne of my original reading of the novel in high school, that kept me returning to Todd Browning's 1931 version. But it was always rocky going, dealing as I had to with the clumsy exposition (especially the romance between Harker and Mina – that balcony scene!); leaden pacing; the bats on the strings (were there no wranglers back then? I guess not); the egregious overacting (Renfield); the unnecessary comic relief (the caretaker and the maid) . . . but these things were always mitigated by the lovely photography, the spectacular production design, and the crackling chemistry between the Count and Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan, to my mind the film's most effective performance).
Well, I am happy to say that this new edition augments those pleasures admirably, first and foremost by virtue of the stunning score by Phillip Glass, an infinite improvement over the sadly pedestrian original accompaniment. I should mention, in passing, Mr. Glass' similar contribution to Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, also worthy of investigation.
Secondly, the inclusion of the Spanish language version, filmed nocturnally over the same time period on the same set, but with different costumes, and a wholly different approach to the subject matter, an approach informed for the better by the availability of the rushes from day's earlier shoot, which allowed the crew, feeling a little competitive, a baseline upon which to improve.
A must for the completist, it perhaps best appreciated alongside the many other films that benefited from it, as well as the one that proceeded it. Not Todd Browning's finest moment; for that I recommend you seek out Freaks.
The commentaries were conducted by film historian David J. Skal and author & screenwriter for "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," Steve Haberman. Both commentaries are very well-done and obviously were planned out, written ahead of time and rehearsed. I enjoyed the Skal commentary the most. He gives background information (sometimes gossipy) on many of the actors, production crew, and film techniques. He includes symbolism and cultural references used in the film and also reveals scenes that were cut from the original script. Haberman focuses more on motion picture politics which I did not find as interesting. He also does not follow the scenes like Skal does, except to point out the ways in which the Spanish version is inferior to the English version. The Spanish version here includes an introduction by Lupita Tovar Kohner, who played the female lead.
In two main areas, Skal and Haberman disagree. Skal prefers the Spanish version for its innovative filming techniques while Haberman believes Browning's version is more effective on all levels. They also have completely different takes on a piece of cardboard attached to a lamp in Mina's bedroom. Skal believes it was an oversight while Haberman defends it as "set dressing." I tend to side with Skal as, if the item was used to show the character was shielding the light of the lamp as she slept, it probably wouldn't look so shoddy. This was a mansion with wealthy people. Why would this rich socialite use a ripped piece of cardboard to create a night light?
Several documentaries are included in this set. The tribute to Bela Lugosi "Lugosi: The Dark Prince," covers his film career. It would have been better if it also presented some info on what he was like as a person and not just his characters, especially since his son is included in another documentary on this set and could have shed some light on his father's personality. "The Road to Dracula" was hosted by Carla Laemmle, the niece of Universal owner Carl Laemmle who spoke the first words in the film in the stage coach scene. It goes into the history of the novel by Bram Stoker and its adaptation to stage and screen. This documentary includes a recreation of sorts of Prof Van Helsing's final curtain speech that was later removed from the film.
"Universal Horror" is a very interesting and rather lengthy documentary that covers many of the scary films put out by Universal in the 1920s and 1930s and includes freaky scenes from such films as "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Man Who Laughs," "The Black Cat," etc. I liked the inclusion of scenes from early silents. It also reveals secrets to special effects found in "King Kong" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," and "The Invisible Man." Film historians who were kids back in the day talk about what these films meant to them and the reactions of audiences at the time. Bela Lugosi Jr. talks about his famous father in several clips in this documentary. And if all that were not enough, you also get to see a collection of posters and stills. This 75th Anniversary set has so much to offer and is so well-done that I recommend it to any Dracula/horror film fan even if they already have a copy of Dracula.
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According to numerous other reviews that appear with this product, it has the recently added score by Philip Glass.Read more