The man sitting there in a monastery cell near Budapest in 1897 is more than dead than alive: his skull is bald, his head covered with strange wounds, his eyes confused, if not insane. He clearly has something terrible behind him. A nun sits opposite him. "Your account of Transylvania is an interesting read," she says to the man in whose eyes a fly is crawling into it at that moment, which crawls out of his mouth shortly thereafter. Welcome to the Dracula world as they have been tailored by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
In their extraordinarily successful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes , which was transported to contemporary London, the two screenwriters demonstrated that it is possible to approach a well-known material in a source-faithful and respectful manner and still vary the original in an original way. Now Gatiss and Moffat have chosen another mythical figure from late 19th century English literature for a BBC Netflix production based on three 90-minute films: Dracula.
Bram Stoker's blood-sucking count served as a template for various art forms. The new film version (directed by Jonny Campbell, Paul McGuigan and Damon Thomas) makes generous use of every genre and above all does not shy away from trash. The blood splatters and drips, the mist swirls, and the count's Transylvanian ancestral seat, to which the English lawyer Jonathan Harker ends up, is seldom staged as impressively and architecturally artfully as this dark labyrinth.
That Harker (John Heffernan) is the undead in the monastery cell who tells his experiences of the quick-witted, cool-agnostic and mocking sister Agatha (Dolly Wells). Agatha is equal to Draculas (Claes Bang) because she is clever, clairvoyant and fearless. This constellation and the great play of the two main actors keeps the three-part swing going, and above all gives it a dialogical joke that does not leave out any treats ("You seem pretty exhausted").
All in all, Dracula starts crunching a little, to say the least: The castle lord initially presents himself as a wrinkle-rich man with streaky long hair who undergoes a transformation through the constant enjoyment of his guest at lightning speed, until at the end the attractive and charming Claes Bang in its purest form before us stands. And only a gray shell remains of Harker. The vampire of re-adaptation not only sucks blood, but properties, the nature of its victims. If he wants to speak Bavarian dialect, and it's just for fun, he simply takes a Bavarian bit.
Claes Bang is a brilliant Dracula, he shows the elegant and the evil, the monstrous and the humorous in a confined space. He is a seductive parleur, a bonmot-bubbling dandy and a projection screen of longings, a gourmet too - and yet under this cultivated surface lurks the archaic thirst for blood that can break out at any time.