“9 August.—The sequel to the strange arrival of the derelict in the storm last night is almost more startling than the thing itself. It turns out that the schooner is Russian from Varna, and is called the Demeter. ”
The Last Voyage of Demeter (2023)
The Last Voyage of Demeter (2023) is one of the alternative film adaptations that attracted my attention to take a look at it. The talented Norwegian-Hollywood filmmaker, André Øvredal imaginatively expanded the always ‘montaged’ episode of chapter 7 of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) into the last voyage of Nostromo (Alien, 1979).
“Later. —By the kindness of the Board of Trade inspector, I have been permitted to look over the logbook of the Demeter, which was in order up to within three days, but contained nothing of special interest except as to facts of missing men.”
The point is that the Demeter log by the unnamed captain in the novel is just one of the basic sources of this film adaptation precisely, it also includes the Mina Harker’s journal and the newspaper. The latter content became the opening sequence of this film. Furthermore, the deadly fog completely covered Whitby in the creeping stormy night, the ending of this film is supposedly proceeded on the board.
In fact, the so-called LOG OF THE DEMETER is written in Russian while the captain is Russian.
“East wind, fresh. Crew, five
hands… two mates, cook, and myself, (captain).”
Thus, originally there were a total of nine crew on board without Dracula. The number is the same as the film version, yet the Romanian slave/ stowaway, Anna (played by Jessica Harper-like Aisling Franciosi; the character is also like Anna in The Predator, 1987) and the captain’s grandson, Toby (from the name of Tobe Hooper? Toby is like Ralphie Glick in Salem's Lot, 1979 miniseries) are out of the original framework of the ship. On the other hand, the actual names that appear in the novel are only Amramoff, Olgaren, and Petrofsky. We can find the actual names only Olgaren and Petrofsky in the film.
“On 16 July mate reported in the morning that one of the
crew, Petrofsky, was missing. Could not account for it.”
Additionally, the protagonist, the African doctor, Clemens, is like the intelligent truck driver, Ben (played by a teacher, Duane Jones) in The Night of the Living Dead (1968) and equally suffers racist hostility from the crew. It clearly reveals that the hero, Ben (played by a teacher, Duane Jones) in The Night of the Living Dead (1968) has exactly contemporariness and perfectly fits the political correctness of racial diversification of casting. Even more, it reflects in the diversification of languages used in a film is Russian, Romanian, and English. That’s acceptable to the broad audience of today.
The multiverse approach to the novel, Dracula, is the outstanding and most advanced stage of this genre tradition, even though the monster design of Dracula is like the vampires in VIY (especially, its acting; 1967), and it is nothing more than the digitally animated version of Kurt Barlow in the Salem's Lot, 1979 miniseries.
These inevitable resemblances and accumulations of traditional film elements could be a major reason for the negative reviews by paid critics, while these phenomena are today and in the whole future will be totally inevitable. Hence, from this curse of the none-inimitableness of the present and future films with the classics of the past, a certain genre tradition is normal. And we should take it as proof of filmmakers’ study of the respected culture.
However, this film adaptation does not violate the original novel and its essence. The core of the original novel is not any kind of sexual revolution against Victorian conservatism, but it is still the question of evil, while the ideology of the novel itself is theodicy. Moreover, at the end, the novel, Dracula, is a triumph of Victorian masculinity over the ‘vampires (aliens).’
While being faithful to the universe of Dracula, The Last Voyage of Demeter (2023) not only dealt with contemporary evil -racism- in the book, but it also successfully adapted the always ‘montaged’ episode into a feature-length classical tragedy about originally unnamed people. This enhancement or creative evaluation itself is the aesthetically remarkable value of this production.
The cons of this film are also pros as mentioned above, yet in the narrative aspect, it is true that the audience naturally thinks that illogical avoidance of daylight resolution by the crew against Dracula. It is felt as something pushing in the process.
However, the original novel also avoided that kind of notion of crew.
In the film, the crew do a daylight search of the entire ship.
“To allay it, I shall today search the entire ship carefully from stem
Then, they get a notion of its hiding place correctly.
“It is in the hold, perhaps in one
of those boxes. ”
Yet, the captain misunderstands that the suicide crew member is the killer, not Dracula.
“…suppose I know the secret too, now. It was this madman
who had got rid of the men one by one, and now he has
followed them himself. ”
Fairly speaking, the film did not violate the general course of the novel itself in the treatment of Dracula. And it is still faithful that crew members beside the captain engage in the battle against Dracula like the film. One of them could be Clemens. Ultimately, we know that Clemens gets killed by Dracula, or he could have helped Van Helsing on one of the estates searching all around London in a possible sequel.
In conclusion, this multiverse adaptation is more interesting and attracting than the depthless commercial approach of Van Helsing (2004) or Renfield (2023) to the novel. Yes, it actually is a film of 2023.
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