Telling Dracula Untold

In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.
A classic horror novel mixed with romance, betrayal, and murder the Victorian public found the story entertaining and equivalent to some of Edgar Allen Poe’s work, though Stoker made little money off his novel. Whether Stoker had purposed to record history had been debatable and perchance not even considered when his book was first published.

But Dracula has a back story and some historical roots that hadn’t really been investigated until Radu FLorescu and Raymond McNally wrote In Search of Dracula. Their discoveries brought some interesting analogies between history’s Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia (1456–1462) and Stoker’s Count Dracula. Evidently Vlad was known as “Vlad the Impaler”, a blood thirsty ruler who was said to have killed between 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians whom he considered to be enemies, or simply  unworthy of life. The man was feared.

Romanians held Vlad as a hero, having rescued their country from the Ottoman Turks.  This 2014 film, Dracula Untold is a retelling of both Stoker’s Dracula and a fictional account of Vlad III, mixing history with a horrific fantasy with a premise of what might happen when a helpless hero sells out to the devil.

The movie will be released Oct 10, just in time for all the undead to pop out of their coffins and reCount history.

Reviews of the movie indicate a rating of PG-13, and that the horror hinted at in the story is mild compared to other motion pictures of the same genre. It is, no doubt a watered down recount of history. Vlad III was probably a worse brute than the fictional Dracula that Bram Stoker dreamed up.

Luke Evans plays the lead, and he is one of my favorite actors. I have a feeling his portrayal of an antihero will leave me as sorrowful as I felt about Anikan in Star Wars-a strong and righteous figure forced into being a miserable and brutal antagonist.

All and all this is a timely piece for October.

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  1. Thank you S.M. Stirling. I have since seen it as well. They did make Vlad more repentant than I thought he would be, but still Luke Evans did a passionate job with his character. I agree with your thoughts on the Ottomans. They were truly a threat.

    All in all I liked the movie. I’m glad I watched it.

  2. I’ve seen it. Vlad is mildly retconned — he’s shown as remorseful for his nasty deeds, but still convinced they were necessary.

    The good point is that it doesn’t bowlderize the gross unpleasantness of the Ottomans, who were a genuine threat to the whole of Europe at the time.

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