Dracula (TV Mini-Series 2020) - Of Monsters, men and beasts
As a Romanian, one takes the celebration of the fictional Count Dracula with a regular dose of humor. By now, the well known tale of the Prince of Vampires tied to the land of Transylvania has become, for most of us, the same old story of fall from grace and Hollywood has tried almost every trick up its sleeve.
And lo and behold, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat delivered a three episodes retelling of a classic, spiced up with mirth, tributes to Hammer golden oldies time, shocking revelations and twists which made the audience split like the Red Sea into those who loved this juicy, gory stint and those who hated it.
And if you’re going to give me a Dracula, give me an actor who’s looks would kill and does more than smirk and snare and attempt a ridiculous Romanian accent. I for one, had no fucking clue who Claes Bang was before this mini-series but shame of me, from now on, I will follow his filmography closely because this Dane can act and has a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to a good script.
Claes’ Dracula is terrifying, alluring, menacing, sarcastic, sexy as fuck and he doesn’t give a fuck. The last part aka he doesn’t give a fuck is a welcoming chage over the sad, doom and gloom Dracula of the past decade who constantly moans over the loss of his beloved Elisabeth/Mina. This Dracula is here to have some fun, he is unapologetic and he loves a good cat and mouse chase especially when he finds someone who stimulates him intellectually - meet Dolly Wells Agatha/Zoe.
I liked the twist brought to the tale. The homo-eroticism, the new spin on Jonathan and Mina, the Demeter tale which finally has a start, a middle and an end beyond the eternal he sailed from Romania to London and the ship became a ghost ship because Dracula drank the blood of every crew member. The second episode has focused on a tale similar toand it was a fun take, with Dracula playing the devil’s detective and following his own agenda.
Here is the thing, I liked the fact this reincarnation of Dracula followed his own agenda and couldn’t give a fuck about the good old themes other movies and TV shows had pinned on him. This a stripped, fresh take with Dracula who enjoys his agency and power. Who is unapologetic.
I wish Gatiss and Moffat would had given us an eight episodes season because, brace yourselves again, I actually enjoyed the now controversial third episode. In fact, I quite adored this take of Dracula freshly resurrected, discovering the modern world, wonder and irony in his speech. I loved the new take on Lucy Westenra. A modern view of our delightful society. We play our cards, we act indifferent, jaded and shallow, we claim we don’t give a damn but when the final sting comes, death isn’t just another extreme experience and “don’t care attitude” doesn’t do much for the surviving skills.
Every villain needs a good adversary and the twist of having Van Helsing’s character turned into a woman, at first a nun and in modern times, a doctor was delicious. But what I loved was, again, in the third episode, when Zoe is given a final purpose by her ancestor, Agatha. The two women embraced death like an old friend and together they brought peace to Dracula. Not by force but by solving the puzzle, the puzzle of the blood. Blood is lives, the Count says. The vampire lore takes on a more psychological spin, a spin of facing the shame and self loathing, because at the end of the day, there is strength in facing death. It’s what we all do in the end and what Dracula understands.
We rarely get what we want to but just like this mini-series shows it, be careful with what you wish for, the consequences may be hard to bear and sometimes, taking a good, hard look in the mirror is refreshing. It hurts, it’s frightening but it shows what lies behind the masks.