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The $50-Million Avant-Garde Film

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To the editors:

I'd like to thank Jonathan Rosenbaum for his refreshingly levelheaded defense of Bram Stoker's Dracula ("Cornucoppola," November 27).

To the casual filmgoer (or critic)--weaned on bland Hollywood formula, conditioned to being a passive spectator--it's understandable that such an eclectic film should leave them feeling bewildered. But can't they appreciate a good joke? Coppola and his crew put one over on the Hollywood bigwigs: This is one of the wildest anomalies in the history of American commercial cinema--a $50 million avant-garde movie. The conceit was enough to keep me grinning throughout the bumpy narrative.

I also find it amusing that people spend more time griping about the plot than discussing the visual ideas right in front of them. The plot isn't the point here, just as the libretto isn't necessarily the point of an opera. What's important is what a conductor and the orchestra do with that libretto. Coppola and company certainly know how to compose visual and aural arias.

Despite its mixmaster messiness, Bram Stoker's Dracula has more imagination and filmmaking bravura than many of the nice and neat movies currently being trotted out for Oscar's blessing. It would be nice if Francis Coppola could recapture the master storyteller's voice of his Godfather and Conversation days. Until then, however, we should applaud his genuine glee in at least trying to astonish us.

Bill Dal Cerro

River West

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