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Birthing modernity: The BBC’s Count Dracula (1977)

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The BBC’s 1977 Count Dracula is cast firmly in the mould of a BBC classic serial, privileging fidelity, frocks and location shots. However, a surprising amount of cultural work is done by the adaptation’s few but striking deviations from its general principle of fidelity, such as the total omission of Arthur Holmwood, the turning of Lucy and Mina into sisters rather than friends and Dracula’s speech in defence of vampirism, coupled with the absence of any suggestion that vampirism might be a metaphor for something other than itself. This adaptation’s focus, I suggest, is to precipitate the arrival of modernity, as a half-glimpse of the Simone Martini Annunciation in the crypt of Carfax leads into Dracula materializing in Mina’s bedroom as white smoke like an Unholy Ghost, suggesting that a new era is about to dawn and that sexuality is out of the coffin in which the Victorians sought to imprison it.
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Keywords: angel imagery; annunciation paintings; fidelity; modernity; motherhood; sexuality; vampirism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sheffield Hallam University

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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