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1931 ?Dracula? now has a new music track...


FredCDobbs
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I heard it for the first time a couple of nights ago. I hate to admit it, but it sounded great to me.

 

See this:

 

http://www.philipglass.com/music/recordings/dracula.php

 

?There have in fact been many screen versions of Bram Stoker's classic tale of Dracula, but none more famous or enduring than the 1931 original. Starring B?la Lugosi as the world's best known vampire and directed by horror specialist Tod Browning, Universal Studios' Dracula creates an eerie, chilling mood that has rarely been realized since. Dracula's initial theatrical release coincided with the transition from silent pictures to "talkies." At that time limited technology existed to present the film as a sound picture, so no musical score was ever composed and there were few sound effects.

 

Glass's new original score for Dracula was commissioned by Universal Family and Home Entertainment Production for inclusion as part of Universal's Classic Monsters collection, to be released on video on August 31. Philip Glass, in commenting on writing this score, said, "The film is considered a classic. I felt the score needed to evoke the feeling of the world of the 19th century ? for that reason I decided a string quartet would be the most evocative and effective. I wanted to stay away from the obvious effects associated with horror films. With Kronos we were able to add depth to the emotional layers of the film."?

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The fact "Dracula" had no music score, made this film unique in that it was made within a very small time frame between silent and the first generation sound on film which was Western Electric. I like to hear the slight hiss and most of the time low volume of the variable density soundtrack because this shows the limitations of the technology during this time period.

 

This period is just as important as the silent and Vitaphone eras. Adding such material is a bit of artistic vandalism and should be left as is. How can future generations learned about the advancement of sound during the 20th century?

 

Whats next, having "Frankenstein" (1931) redubbed with hip hop?

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> {quote:title=redriver wrote:}{quote}

> Does the traditional print have no music whatsoever? Or are you talking about original score? I've seen it with a famous piece in the background. Swan Lake?

 

Frankly, I don't remember!

 

I used to think I remembered it having some music, at least in the beginning, but now I can't remember.

 

During the past 30 years with AMC and TCM, I've seen so many old movies I can't remember what has what.

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As a whole, the 1931 film never really had any sort of original score. Most movies at this time, didn?t utilize originally written film scores; we were still just one year away from composer Max Steiner creating his groundbreaking original score for David O. Selznick?s Pacific island adventure ?Bird of Paradise.? So, Universal Pictures did what most of the other studios in Hollywood were doing at the time and that was prey upon classical music. Hollywood was still at a sort of stand still on this issue of what might work for anything musically written to create the right mood and background to a film. Universal made no bones about the fact that what music there was to ?Dracula? was written by Tchaikovsky. Audiences at the time could identify with this method and because this was the early era of talking pictures, an established musical work was a means of getting movie goers interested. In hindsight, from an historical sense, there was no musical score to ?Dracula.? But then, most fans do recognize ?Swan Lake? and the rest is simple movie history.

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There was a logical, though unfounded, concern among studio executives that dramatic underscoring in a film would cause audiences to wonder where the music was coming from (i.e., the source within the film frame), distracting them from the dialogue and images. As a result sound films featured music only over their main and end titles. When one considers that, in large cities, silent films were slathered with non-stop music provided by live orchestras, ensembles or organists, one has to wonder how those executives justified their reasoning.

 

As was quickly proved by the earlier-mentioned Max Steiner score (though his work in KING KONG a few months later was the real watershed event in the evolution of film-scoring), a well-crafted music score actually sharpens the audience's connection with the drama, in that it provides a level of story-telling beyond the what can be conveyed by words and images.

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I?ve just viewed Dracula (1931) as shown by AMC in April 1991. That version has music during the opening credits and a brief portion of the scene at the opera house. I believe that the lack of a musical soundtrack is an enhancement to the terror of this classic movie.

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There is reason to believe that because the 1931 ?Dracula? was based on a staged version, music wasn?t so prone or to be so suggestive in conveying anything of a background mood. While this issue is debatable and opinions widely range towards the idea of having a music score to a motion picture, there is credence to feel that it wasn?t such a necessity in 1931, since the emphasis was on the visual, if not, the sound or in this historical case: dialog. After so many years of having been indoctrinated by the sheer dark, foreboding moodiness of the 1931 film version, a music score now seems rather odd and out of place from what there might be towards the film?s originality or the taking away of it. Certainly, for many a diehard film fan, this will be looked upon as tampering or an alteration to the fabric and substance of the motion picture. While it might be considered nice or interesting to have a fully composed, original music score accompany the film, it simply isn?t necessary and won?t add anything other than a new curiosity to once again see or experience the movie. Perhaps this is worthiness and good intend of keeping something alive towards a classic film. But, anything that is considered a classic need not be changed or alliterated due to the passing of time and changes in the public taste or that of new technologies able to add something fresh and new for the generations to come. Movies seem to be one of the few things of the past that can be either changed or meddled with, because in the end the motion picture media has always been a technology that is able to sustain flexibility and exist amid dynamism that can?t stay so easily fixed.

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> {quote:title=talkietime wrote:}{quote}

> Ive just viewed Dracula (1931) as shown by AMC in April 1991. That version has music during the opening credits and a brief portion of the scene at the opera house. I believe that the lack of a musical soundtrack is an enhancement to the terror of this classic movie.

Agreed. And this is my favorite movie.

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Although I have seen the 1931 *Dracula* many times, it has been a few years. I do remember the lack of a score, and the bleakness that connoted. I remember how well the creakings and wind whistling came through, without a score.

 

There was a Spanish version, shot at night, with the same sets. It would be interesting to see what sort of a score, if any, that version had.

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Sounds like no music in this clip (until the very end) in the Spanish version. I?m sure you already know that Universal used Spanish-speaking actors for this version, which was filmed at night, while the English version was filmed during the day. The full Spanish version is now on YouTube, but I haven't seen it all yet:

 

 

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> {quote:title=ValentineXavier wrote:}{quote}

> Thanks, Fred. Seems like the Spanish version got the same sort of minimal scoring as did the English/Lugosi version. Gee, maybe TCM could show the Spanish version sometime. Or have they, a few years back?

 

Osborne has mentioned it a couple of times, but I don't think TCM has shown it yet.

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Didn't TCM air the English and Spanish versions of Dracula several years ago? They were back to back one evening and it was explained how the Spanish version used the same sets right after the English/American one was done. And I read/heard that many critics felt the Spanish direction and acting were better. I never knew there was a Spanish version until I saw the presentation that night.

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> {quote:title=mrroberts wrote:}{quote}

> Didn't TCM air the English and Spanish versions of Dracula several years ago? They were back to back one evening and it was explained how the Spanish version used the same sets right after the English/American one was done. And I read/heard that many critics felt the Spanish direction and acting were better. I never knew there was a Spanish version until I saw the presentation that night.

 

It's possible that it has been on, but I've been looking for it and I haven't seen it on yet. Maybe I missed it.

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Mrroberts, I think you are right. I bet that if I dug through my tape collection, I just might have the Spanish version. I know I have seen it, and I do think it was shown as you described. I do remember liking it, and finding it better in some ways, but thinking that the Lugosi version was still the best.

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"Now" has a new music track? The Glass score was composed 11 years ago.

 

I didn't mind it so much (the DVD gives you the option of the original soundtrack or the Glass score) as I minded the fact that Glass' music was NON-STOP...a score should underscore the dramatics when needed, but the mistake with the Glass score was that it was unending and unceasing. It never stops....and that's the problem with it. After watching the movie with it for awhile, I eventually find myself thinking "I wish that music would STOP for awhile!".

 

I'm also amazed that people are finding the Spanish version seemingly so "rare" or hard to find...it was originally released on VHS 13 years ago! Now, when one buys the Lugosi version on DVD, it also includes the Spanish version (which is actually considered by many, now that they've seen it, to be superior to the Lugosi version).

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I've now auditioned the Spanish version of Dracula shown by the SCI FI Channel on 10/31/1997. There are brief musical interludes as Dracula emerges from his coffin, in addition to the opera house scene. I'm missing about the last eight minutes of that showing.

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> {quote:title=talkietime wrote:}{quote}

> I've now auditioned the Spanish version of Dracula shown by the SCI FI Channel on 10/31/1997. There are brief musical interludes as Dracula emerges from his coffin, in addition to the opera house scene. I'm missing about the last eight minutes of that showing.

 

I watched about half an hour of it (different segments) on YouTube, and I see that it has almost no music except what you mentioned.

 

Seems to me that the background track on the Spanish version has been cleaned up because there is no background hiss. I found this strange, because I?m used to hearing a little background hiss on the original American version, and that has become part of the film in my mind, almost like a constantly blowing wind.

 

The hiss, by the way, is often artificially and accidentally generated through the process of making multiple dubs over the years. A copy of a copy of a copy messes up the ?signal to noise? ratio of the sound track, much like it can increase or decrease the contrast of the film?s image. The multi-generation copies add a little more noise to each successive copy, and the noise is often in the form of a background hiss. Also, old sound tracks can pick up many tiny specks of dust, and this contributes to noise. Dust added on top of more dust added to more dust can contribute to a background hiss over the years.

 

There are ways to remove the hiss now with computer technology, which basically produces a dead track except when specific intentional sounds are heard. I?m not sure exactly how it works, but a computer program can anticipate sound segments by listening a little ahead of the re-record device. It can turn the sound down when there is no sound effects or voice, and then when it hears a sound or voice, it can turn the sound back up at just the right time. It can do this automatically all through the film. In the old days, this could be done only with a tedious manual process.

 

It looks to me like the Spanish version on YouTube has a new 1992 copyright date added at the bottom of the first title.

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