Client: Personal Project
This project is not a real-world production. I set the brief to develop and practice the art of graphic research and prop-making under set time constraints.
Project: Bram Stoker's Dracula (Reimagined)
I have taken the script from the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film Bram Stoker’s Dracula and approached it as if it were being produced today.
It is 1890, Count Dracula (Mads Mikkelsen), a 15th-century prince, is condemned to live off the blood of the living for eternity. Young lawyer Jonathan Harker (Timothée Chalamet) is sent to Dracula’s castle to finalise a land deal, but when the Count sees a photo of Harker’s fiancée, Mina (Freya Allan), the spitting image of his dead wife, he imprisons him and sets off for London to track her down.
The props come from a script breakdown of Jonathan Harker’s journey to Romania and his initial meeting with Dracula.
Hero prop – Jonathan Harkers’s journal.
Jonathan Harkers’s journal: Jonathan’s journal in ‘Dracula’ emerges as a narrative linchpin, granting readers an intimate, firsthand perspective on the novel’s harrowing events. With each page, it intensifies the atmosphere of dread and suspense, unraveling the depths of character and supernatural intrigue. Enriching the experience further, small illustrations, such as the iconic CIWL logo of the Orient Express operator and the emblem of Munich, enhance its visual presence, immersing viewers in the captivating tale of vampiric terror.
Hero letter to Jonathan Harker from D
Hero letter to Jonathan Harker from D: This letter instructs Jonathan to meet Dracula at the eerie Borgo Pass, which bears a reimagined Castle Dracul crest. It depicts a dragon from which ‘Dracul’ derives his name, the dragon stands on an inverted cross, nodding to occult symbolism. Additionally, a postage frank from the region of Bistrița-Năsăud, Harker’s destination, displays a symbolic image from their coat of arms: children suckling on a wolf, a foreshadowing harbinger of Dracula’s menacing wolf pack.
Hero painting of Vlad Dracul the III (Mads Mikkelsen)
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Right: Orient-Express ticket for Harker from Paris to Budapest.
Below: Orient-Express Dinner Menu.
Orient-Express ticket: In 1890, the Orient Express was operated by the Belgian company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). The ticket bears their logo in gold emboss. The spelling ‘Pesth’ was used by Bram Stoker in his novel, although it is now considered archaic.
Orient-Express Dinner Menu: I created a dinner menu as dressing for Jonathan’s journal. It features typical Victorian dishes and is in French, as would be typical for most items on the service.
Budapest Postcard: Jonathan departs the Orient-Express in Budapest before picking up another train to Romania. Jonathan would likely have little time to explore the city but has purchased a postcard depicting the magnificent Budapest Western Railway Station. It is as yet unwritten.
Jonathan Harker Calling Cards: Calling cards were an indispensable accessory to fashionable, upper class life in Britain during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The p.p.c in the corner is added before a long absence (Pour Prendre Congé / Take My Leave).
Hero photoplate of Mina Harker (Freya Allan)
Hero photoplate of Mina Harker: The pivotal photoplate image of Mina is a linchpin in the film’s narrative. Its significance lies in the striking resemblance between Mina and Dracula’s late wife, a resemblance that ensnares Jonathan as a captive of fate. Crafted with meticulous precision, this image of Fraya Allan has been artfully photoshopped to recreate the enchanting style of Victorian photographic techniques, adding depth and authenticity to the film’s plotline.
London Newspaper from April 28, 1890.
London Newspaper from April 28th 1890: Dated just before Harker’s arrival in London, it borrows from the period’s traditional front-page design but adds a dramatic twist with bold banner headlines. The main story, an homage to the British Empire, anchors us in the film’s time frame, while a tale of mysterious disappearances in Eastern Europe ominously foreshadows the unfolding events, adding depth and intrigue to the storyline.
Hero Tapestry – Order of the Dragon
Hero Tapestry: The ‘Order of the Dragon’ tapestry meticulously designed as a hero prop. This aged and weathered relic showcases Count Dracula astride a steed, spear in hand, surrounded by emblems and Latin inscriptions. Dragons devouring their tails, echoing the Order’s original symbology, serve as a striking motif. The Latin inscription, ‘O quam misericors est Deus, justus et pius. Societas Draconis’ (‘O how merciful is God, faithful and just. Society of the Dragonists’), adds an air of authenticity to this captivating glimpse into a world of ancient secracy and devotion.
Indenture hero prop – Carfax estate deed of purchase
Carfax estate deed of purchase: An Indenture Document dated 1890, representing the sale of Carfax Abbey in Purfleet, London, recreated on vellum-type paper. The aged vellum texture, ornate 1890s calligraphy, and an embossed seal imbue the document with historical weight. Legal language, stamps, and elaborate borders contribute to its authenticity, offering an immersive glimpse into the era.