[Home] [Weblog] [The Bibliothecary] [Driving the Quill] [Library][Bookmarks]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Twenty-Seven

The twenty-seventh book we read this year is Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Film and the Legend, by Francis Ford Coppola and James V. Hart. It is what the publisher calls a Pictorial Moviebook, and contains the complete shooting script of the 1992 film, excerpts from the original novel, and more than 160 photographs of the film production. And it was another book we acquired free through BookMooch!

Stoker's book is one of our favorite novels; Mr. Coppola's adaptation is one of our favorite films. It is the version most faithful to the original novel, and incorporates styles and techniques from previous film versions, notably F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), itself a classic. Our interest in this book was not so much for the script as for the literary and historical essays. Also included are revealing excerpts from Mr. Coppola's journal as he worked on the film, as well as behind-the-scenes details about the production.

The script closely follows the plot of the novel and adds a firm historical background. Some of the dialogue is new, anchored by direct passages from the novel done predominantly in voice-over. The script by itself doesn't make a successful story. A good script is the foundation upon which all films are built, but it makes little sense alone. The director becomes a sort of visual chef, envisioning a final product, gathering the necessary ingredients, and then mixing them just right. This book contains information about Mr. Coppola's methods as a director, the costumes, the film-making techniques, the casting, the editing process, and the importance, though subtle in its effects, of thematic cohesion. What we found most interesting is the extent to which verisimilitude is pursued. Every detail necessary--from coins, to letters, to actual sets--is mocked up and then produced, so they are no longer mere props, but assume a reality of their own. Seeing is believing, and film has become a far more effective medium for suspending the disbelief of an audience.

Though there are literary tidbits throughout, this book is geared toward film fans. The wonderful images from the film by themselves are worth a look. It is also easy to read, and if you have never sunk your teeth into the novel, this book will give you a thorough overview of the story and its history.

No comments:

Post a Comment