Coming out in 1992, Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was touted to be the most faithful adaptation of the book yet, though even if it featured many details and even lines straight from the book, the film also took quite a lot of liberties with it source material, not least in giving Dracula and Mina a real love story not found from the book. More that that the film was a visualistic extravaganza and contained perhaps more diverse filming styles I have ever seen in any other film, which to top it off was all done without CGI, Coppola rather opting to use old film making techniques. Being the really sexually charged gothic horror drama that it is, it was only fitting that the music in the film would mirror this darkly gothic and romantic spirit.
The Polish classical composer Wojciech Kilar accomplished this in flying colours, creating a score that is at times darkly gothic and at others romantically melancholy. Beginning with the brutal and dark “Dracula: The Beginning” with its ominous theme for Dracula, we get some barbarically terrifying action music that creates a strong opening for the album. Apart from the subdued theme for Dracula that resurfaces often, we also get a darkly determined march in “Vampire Hunters” for low brass, a gently blinging and glittering theme for Lucy in “Lucy’s Party”, a romantically gentle love theme for Dracula and Mina in “Love Remembered”, that is further developed in “Mina/Dracula” in a more impassioned style, and a ghostly eerie theme for Dracula’s Brides in “The Brides”.
In the cue “The Storm” we get another brutally dark bit of brassy music with pounding piano for an almost delirious sense of horror to which the vocals of soprano Diamanda Galas create a wonderfully eerie sense of the supernatural. There is also a more religiously coloured theme appearing in the cues “Love Eternal” and “Ascension” for the final scenes of the film of Dracula’s redemption that is almost straight out of his concert work Angelus. And finally, as a small curiosity, is the horrifying bit of sound design in “The Ring of Fire” of devilish laughter and crackling of fire as Dracula’s Brides proceed in killing the horses of Van Helsing near Dracula’s castle that can easily give you nightmares when in the proper mood.
All in all, the score is perfect for its film and works perfectly in conjunction of the visuals, but also makes for a great album in its suite like tracks that don’t necessarily need the film as accompaniment. According to the director’s commentary on the film, Kilar apparently only wrote three pieces of music for the film, which were then edited for the film. I’m not sure exactly how extensive these pieces were as there are many variations and changes in detail found here that are clearly not just regurgitated material, but whatever the truth of the matter is, the music still works wonderfully as a standalone.
Dracula: The Beginning (6:41)
Vampire Hunters (3:05)
Mina’s Photo (1:25)
Lucy’s Party (2:56)
The Brides (4:56)
The Storm (5:04)
Love Remembered (4:10)
The Hunt Builds (3:25)
The Hunter’s Prelude (1:29)
The Green Mist (0:54)
The Ring of Fire (1:51)
Love Eternal (2:23)
End Credits (6:42)
Love Song for a Vampire (performed by Annie Lennox) (4:21)
Music Composed by Wojciech Kilar Conducted by Anton Coppola Special Vocal Performances: Diamanta Galas
Recorded and Mixed by Katherine Quittner Columbia, 1992 (472746-2)