The three drives of Dracula

A few days ago, I re-watched an absolute classic: Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. I was astonished to find how well the film had aged. If anything, this great masterpiece only gained quality over time, much like fine wine. Since I first saw it when I was eleven, Dracula has remained deeply etched in a corner of my mind. And for a fucking good reason.

How could anyone possibly forget such a tragic love story, with just the right combination of wicked music, elaborate costumes, and breathtaking landscapes? Not to mention the irresistible and falsely modest beauty of Mina Harker (Winona Ryder) and Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost).

No matter how many times I watch the movie, both these gals give me an absolute boner every freaking time. God, just listen to the deliciously kicking British accent of theirs.

More seriously, they seem to rip the screen apart with their looks. I know how little sense this last metaphor makes to English-speaking readers, but I simply couldn’t resist mentioning it. I derived it from the well-known French expression “crever l’écran”, which, although is far too common, I can’t help but love.

It means to pierce the screen and, as you might have guessed, is used to describe an actor or actress who possesses enough presence to transcend the medium to the point of coming so alive on screen as to give audiences the impression that he or she might step outside of it at any moment, and hence the term, piercing.

However lively the acting and exquisite the aesthetics may be, the perfection of Coppola’s work just cannot solely be explained by them. I have always believed that something more profound existed beneath all the veneer of beauty that so many have observed and admired when talking about the movie. Until today, I haven’t much thought about this hunch.

But now that I sit in front of my screen in the dead of night, I realize how crucial a role this hidden element plays in binding the whole picture together. It acts as lubricant in machinery, if you will, making it possible for the various, perfectly-crafted parts mentioned above, to mesh together smoothly. For the purpose of this analysis, let’s simply call this mysterious underlying force, Dracula’s drive. You could also fucking call it Coppola’s glue kit.

Horny virgins

The first scene that prompted me to the existence of Dracula’s drive was the one in which Mina and her friend Lucy discuss their desire for marriage and sex. It happens about one fifth into the movie.

This scene, in which Mina and Lucy also discuss pornographic illustrations, achieves two goals for the movie. Firstly, it implies that both girls are still virgins, and secondly, that they also are fucking horny as hell. In other words, Coppola weds extreme emotional naivete with intense sexual desires in both characters. It’s easy to guess why. Sex and innocence, when coupled, usually sell extremely well.

But true understanding requires a look beyond the pile of dollar bills. If you put together this explosive cocktail of lust and purity stirred with the features of a vampire, you’ll have the ideal fuel to start a fire storm. Since Dracula seems to behave like a stalker, a rapist and, ultimately, a sexual mentor, he absolutely needs inexperienced yet willing victims to bite into.

And who better than a soon-to-be-wed virgin fantasizing about sex to play that very role? Some might object that Dracula cannot be construed as a sexual mentor, or even that such a sexualization of vampires is an overly psychoanalytical interpretation, but I find a match like hell between a beastly blood sucker who has little control over his impulses and a virgin who fucking cannot wait to have her cherry popped.

So, the first aspect of Dracula’s drive is unreleased sexual energy, which defines the eerie, yet erotic magnetism of Coppola’s work.

Dracula’s kiss

In real life, bottled-up sexual energy can be dealt with in three ways. The pleasant way is to simply release it by fucking like a rabbit. The stupid way is to repress it and to slowly let oneself be eaten alive by frustration, which is a precise method, might I add, to becoming the next Ted Bundy. And the last one, the cerebral way is more subtle. It is called sublimation, an immense word, alluding to focus one’s energy toward more refined aspirations like art or constructive work. For example, you could sublimate some of your sexual feelings into painting a masterpiece or, why the hell not, into writing a great novel.

In Coppola’s movie, however, we witness a very particular form of sublimation. The figure of the vampire, or the Nosferatu, as professor Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) would say in his hilarious accent, sublimates his victim’s carnal desires into a life of darkness, a life without life.

Basically, by injecting an extremely degraded version of life into death, Dracula’s kiss makes his brides eternally hungry for blood, yet never able to quench themselves of this cursed and insatiable thirst.

Wait a fucking second. Isn’t that strangely symmetric to the unfulfilled yearning that both Lucy and Mina experienced in life? The real difference is that becoming a vampire makes the frustration, or the thirst, permanent. You could say that becoming a vampire is like succumbing to an endless cycle of frustrated lust. And what better definition is there of hell than that of a place of no release?

So, the second aspect of Dracula’s drive is sublimation of life through death into living hell, which greatly renders a tragic streak to the movie.

Death’s soaking wet thong

Paradoxically enough, after and even during this twisted sublimation process, all of Dracula’s brides display extreme sluttiness. Our dear Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), for instance, is almost eaten alive when he encounters Dracula’s starving Transylvanian girls. The bloody, near-blowjob scene is priceless, by the way! Lucy also offers herself quite indecently to Quincey P. Morris (Billy Campbell) in the hope of coaxing him close to her sharp incisors. Similarly, her friend Mina strives to seduce professor Van Helsing in a last-ditch attempt to help her dear prince Dracula towards the end of the film.

But let’s not fill this article with spoilers. Some of you might not have seen the movie after all. The point is that all of this shameless whoring while or after an innocent girl is turned into a child of the night clearly suggests a strong connection between death and sex.

But where in our world, the lust experienced by humans is generative and results in reproduction, its mirror in the world of vampires is destructive and only produces more bloodsuckers. So, for the Nosferatu, death essentially gives birth to more death in an incessant, and desperate cycle. There is simply no positive growth in it at all.

Coppola, therefore, portrays a sort of reversed-mirror symmetry between the human world and its vampire counterpart. He metaphorically shows us what sexual feelings could become when freed from the bonds of morality. The undead somehow seem freaking horny for death, a mere beast to be satisfied. This is not completely unlike the metaphor of cancer being seen as a gluttonous feeder.

So, the third and final aspect of Dracula’s drive is a horny, diseased, and endless life. You could say that this underlines the crucial importance of death to human beings. Coppola, and probably Bram Stoker himself, make it easy for us to understand the true significance of death.

Death, it seems to me, is nothing but a ruler allowing men to gauge the worth of their lives. Without it, all that would seem to remain is boundless and everlasting craving. On a basic level, vampires seem to crave for blood, but in reality, as the end of the movie suggests, they only seek what has been denied to them: the ultimate release provided by death.

Of course, since every man so far has died, this theory remains purely speculative. Yet, I find it fucking convincing. And the more I think about it, the more I imagine death as a pretty generous guy.

A good way to check if someone would acknowledge my theory that death is man’s absolute release is to ask them about vampires. If they see vampires as powerful and superior beings, they are likely in rejection of their own mortality. If, on the contrary, they see them as pathetic, and inferior creatures, they might be of my blood group. Or if they find vamps to be cool, which I guess we would all agree on, they could, however unlikely that it may seem, be conceited vampires themselves.

Final thoughts

In my view, the strong, almost storm-like, dreamy ambiance that permeates the whole movie mainly stems from Dracula’s drive and its three aspects. In the grand scheme of things, neither the story, nor the characters really play that much of a role.

What is central, rather, is the way in which death, sex and love are bound together and twisted through the lenses of the vampire. Vampires don’t lose their substance simply because they are monsters, but primarily because they live forever. And that is why Coppola’s Dracula is the most beautiful reminder of how fragile a flower humanity really is.

So, the next time you hear some asshole trans-humanist tell you with pride how we could download our minds into computers twenty years from now, don’t dry your mouth arguing with him. Instead, just imagine the horror of some computerized vampire’s teeth at your throat and revel in the knowledge that you, at least, will always have the wisdom to choose death over an eternity of filthy craving.

Unfortunately, our world brims with people who would rather be vampires than die.