Happy New Year’s, everybody!
I still can’t get the DVD player in my PC to work properly, so this is not going to be quite the analysis I had originally planned. But it should still work, I hope.
Join me under the cut!
Dracula (1931) opens with a not entirely realistic version of Romania, where the character of Renfield is introduced to us getting off a stagecoach.
Two immediate problems with Dracula’s depiction of Romania: first, the peasants are all speaking authentic Hungarian. While it’s nice to see Hollywood get a language right for once, Romania’s primary language is, you know, Romanian. Even Transylvania, which has been swapped between the two countries on and on, is primarily Romanian.
The second issue is that Romania wasn’t as primitive as depicted in Dracula (1931) in 1931. Rather than the country of Funny Foreigners and backwards superstition presented in the film, Romania was an industrial, modern country in 1931. Granted, this is at least partially due to Bram Stoker’s original being just as patronizing, but the tech gap he envisioned in 1897 is not nearly as large as the one presented to us in this movie. Then again, that’s at least partially because of Dracula‘s unwillingness to commit to a time period: While Romania remains stuck in the late nineteenth century, England appears to be very firmly in the early thirties. Woops.
At any rate, Renfield takes the place of Jonathan Harker as the British lawyer and real estate agent who is sent to aid Dracula in purchasing English land. In various forms, this idea would crop up again and again in various adaptations.
It’s one of the few changes that makes sense, actually. Renfield in the original novel kind of appears out of nowhere doesn’t have a great effect on the plot and is largely pointless. Tying him more into Dracula and the overall plot helps Renfield’s character immensely, in my opinion.
At any rate, we move on from Renfield meeting the misplaced Hungarian peasants to meeting Dracula and being driven insane in the process. This leads to the Renfield we all know and love: the mad patient of Dr Seward’s who aids Dracula.
It’s also the end of Renfield as an independent character, so we’ll leave him for a bit.
That’s all I’ve got for today (it’s still freezing cold out where I am and it hurts to type) so I’ll see you tomorrow!
When it is, by Godzilla, warmer.