Dracula is one of the most prolific names in movie history. Ever since Bram Stoker introduced the vampire count in his 1897 novel, he has been depicted in more than two hundred films, a number second to Sherlock Holmes, as well as a number of adaptations in television, cartoons, and games. Dracula Untold is the latest in this long line of Dracula films. Rather than focus on the Bram Stoker novel, Gary Shore, in his directorial debut, portrays the story of Vlad the Impaler. The film blends fact with fiction as it transitions from what is known about the actual Impaler to the fictional Dracula in Stoker’s novel. The film follows the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and Wallachia with changes to fit the film. Mehmet II sent Turkish Envoys to implore Vlad to pay a delayed tribute of 10,000 ducrats and 500 recruits into the Turkish army. The only change is that the number of recruits increases to 1000. Vlad refuses the offer when he son is made part of the barter and war comes to his land. Dracula is an antihero rather than a villain as he seeks out power to defeat the Turks and protect his people at all costs. This deviates from how we have seen the character portrayed in pop culture but again, the focus is on the story of Vlad the Impaler who fought for his people. Just like the actual person, he does have a wife and child whom he will protect to his last breath.
The romantic aspect of Dracula is played out with him as a devoted husband to his wife Mirena and loving father to his son Ingeras. They watch as he struggles to hold on to his humanity when he acquires the powers of the first vampire. They also stand by his side when his dark powers are exposed and his own people turn against him with Mirena trying to keep the people from killing him and his son coming to his side when Vlad prays in the chapel for divine help. Another aspect from actual history is the Turkish army’s march on Wallachia; however, this plays out with the Turks marching on the monastery where Vlad has hidden his people. To protect his family and kingdom he holds dear, Dracula uses his newfound powers, such as calling upon a massive cloud of bats, to decimate the invading Turkish army. This action sequence is dazzling in execution and Castlevania fans will recall a similar sequence happening in the game Lords of Shadow 2 in which the vampire count of that game single handedly destroys an army. Overall, Dracula Untold is one of those films that play to heavily on one aspect in favor of another. It is a balanced that touches equally on fact and fiction while giving this generation a new twist on a classic character.
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