As a child, I must have watched on TV all the Dracula movies with Christopher Lee as the count and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. But it wasn’t until I read Bram Stoker’s novel that I truly appreciated the character and his story. In a nutshell, the old Dracula movies did not do justice to the novel.
When Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula movie came out in 1992, I felt that, at last, here was a film that was worthy of the novel. It was also a visual and aural delight.
… He [Coppola] made equally offbeat choices for “Dracula” in enlisting Wojciech Kilar, a Polish composer whose work Mr. Coppola felt had a suitably Eastern European feel, and the costume designer Eiko Ishioka, whose museum-worthy designs for the film have become the basis for a coffee-table book. Costumes do not get any more exquisite than this.
Perhaps the director’s most audacious choice was to pour much of the film’s budget into these costumes and very little into the sets, on the theory that his young actors, the “jewels” of this production, would thus be shown off to best advantage. [NY Times]
Eiko Ishioka was a multi-media Japanese art director and costume designer. She had worked with Coppola before on the poster for the release of Apocalypse Now in Japan. Ishioka was a Grammy winner, Tony nominee and Oscar winner for her work in Dracula. She died in 2012.
Yes, the costumes were lavish and anyone who has seen the film are unlikely to forget them. I was especially awed by the women’s costumes although “awe” did not always mean “impressed.” Lucy Westenra’s wedding dress (which eventually became her burial dress), including the head piece, looked too much like a clown’s costume to me. But that was the only costume that made me raise an eyebrow. The rest were, in a word, superlative. In fact, the multi-strand pearl choker that went with the wedding dress almost made the ridiculousness of the dress and head gear forgettable.